“Looking Like a Lawyer”: On a Budget

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When you decided to become a lawyer, you probably had a clear picture of the type of lawyer you wanted to be, but when you told others about your plans to go to law school they may have shared one of the numerous and not-so-flattering stereotypes about lawyers (greedy, crooked, only care about money). While there will always be a small handful of lawyers that make the rest of them look bad, it’s important for you to be confident in your decision to choose a noble occupation.

Starting out on your own can be a lot of work and a lot of investment, from leasing an office space to paying for advertising, but it’s also important to think about how you’re perceived by potential clients. While no one should ever really be judged by what he or she chooses to wear, we all know the truth behind dressing for success. According to Business insider, research revealed that one’s appearance strongly influences other people’s perception of financial success, authority, trustworthiness, and intelligence, which as all “musts” when being a good lawyer. Here are a few tips for “looking like a lawyer” without breaking the bank:

Dress for the Part

The way you decide to dress is entirely up to you, but you should keep in mind that your appearance is your first impression. Consider your job and the people (or region) you represent. If you are a public defender, for example, your wardrobe may be the most flexible and most comfortable. While public defenders typically wear khakis and nice shirts rather than a suit, when meeting with clients, the decision is up to you. Whether you’re a woman or man, always dress up for a day in court, for this you should have a few nice suit pieces. If you’re going to have a long day at the office, with a follow up in court, don’t forget to wear appropriate shoes. No one wants to wear dress shoes all day if they don’t have to, but don’t break out the sneakers in court. If you’re at a loss of what to wear, become inspired by your mentors or fellow lawyer pals.

Stay Classic and Practical

Fortunately, these days, formal business wear is pretty neutral and created to be “timeless”. Invest in a few high quality and well made pieces such as a full suit or dress pants and a jacket. Avoid trendy styles (think of big shoulder pads) that will eventually die out and make you look outdated. If you want to reflect some of your personality in the way you dress, choose a colorful tie, an interesting pattern of dress socks, or a necklace that makes a statement. Additionally, invest in a little tailoring. A few good fitting suits is a much better investment than a closet full of clothes that are outdated or ill-fitting.

The Car You Drive

When talking about a lawyer’s image, it’s important to bring up the subject of the car you drive. For many lawyers, a car is just a car, right? If you can get to court and meet with clients, that should be good enough, but unfortunately, the car you drive may determine whether or not you’re hired (seems a bit petty, right?). Potential clients may expect that all of you “high paid” lawyers should drive a luxury car like a Mercedes or Maserati, but in reality you’re probably driving a car you drove before law school. If you feel the need to upgrade, consider leasing a luxury car or choose an affordable and practical car (and make sure it’s always clean).

Don’t Forget Your Purpose

As a lawyer, your image is everything, but don’t forget why you became a lawyer in the first place and don’t lose sight of your passion. If you are confident and happy with your decision to become a lawyer, it will shine through to your clients and no suit or fancy car can replace your confidence.

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