A lawyer going into court for the trial of the case he is handling is very much alike to the soldier going into the battlefields to fight a war Law Notes. Both must be equipped with everything they need to win their separate battles.
As a soldier cannot go into battle wearing flimsy, inappropriate apparel, the lawyer cannot also go into court to win a client’s lawsuit decked out in inappropriate get-up.
In court, the opening statements and first instances of arguments serve as a rich venue for the arbitrators, juries and judges to observe the lawyer and form their initial impressions of him and the case he is representing. Given this reality, a trial lawyer must be adept in putting up an appearance and demeanor that will possibly generate the most positive influence to form such first impressions.
In the beginning, if a lawyer presents an appearance of being offensive, his image more or less becomes tarnished for the rest of the proceedings. In the eyes of those observing the lawyer, he already has a lower ethos. However persuasive his arguments may be, these may also be affected by the initial appearance he has shown.
There is an existing diversity in dress standards for every part of the country. In the western part, the code of apparel is far more casual and relaxed compared to some sections in the East Coast.
There is no given recommendation on the standards of dress codes. However, every lawyer must see to it that his way of dressing and overall appearance does not radically oppose or offend the general dress standards in the particular area where he will appear for a trial. Lawyers must also be aware of their audience expectations or standards on how an attorney at law ought to look.
Although a lawyer may prefer colorful or more casual attires, traditional suits remain largely as a good manifestation of professionalism and competence, and thus most recommended.
For trial lawyers going into court, they must appear conservative in a certain way that is well matched to the attire they are most comfortable with. His whole get-up must also be consistent with his regular personal style and adaptable to the expectations of the audience.
In accessorizing, the lawyer must be careful in choosing jewelries to match with his outfit. While there is no code regarding wearing of flashy or sparkling jewelry, it could become a distraction, and thus, quite inappropriate in the courtroom.
There is a theory that opulent jewelry worn by a lawyer could cause some rift between him and the jury’s perception of his arguments. The jury would fail to identify with the lawyer’s case since they perceive a certain extravagance due to the show of jewelry.
Aside from a trial lawyer’s mode of dressing and accessorizing, here are other equally decisive factors that influence the jury or judge’s perception of the lawyer and his client’s suit:
- The way a lawyer arranges his documents and materials on the table. If a lawyer wants to convey the aura of being well prepared, organized and in-control, he must strive to maintain a neatly arranged table during the course of the trial.
- It is adequately helpful for a trial lawyers to learn about the judge’s preferences in the conduct of the trial. This would avoid him from suffering unnecessary embarrassments.
- To gain more impact in a closing argument, it is advisable for a lawyer to move along each juror and make eye contact with him or her. These gestures instill a powerful impression for each juror, implying that he cares about every one of them and that he is speaking sincerely, rather than saying a piece of memorized script.
- The trial lawyer’s delivery of his arguments must not be wrought with overly dramatic facial expressions and motions, although making eye contact is recommended.
Every trial lawyer may have different views on how to appear, stand and deliver in court. The general principle is for them to appear comfortable, natural and reliable in order to exude confidence and positive influence.