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Dressing for the occasion

A recent article in the Law Society Gazette http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/solicitor-advocate-hits-back-at-judges-harry-potter-criticism/5042749.article written by Catherine Baksi caught my eye; she reported that a Judge had criticised (in front of the court room audience) the solicitor-advocate who was representing the defendant for his appearance in court.

After the defendant (who was found guilty) had been taken down but while the jury and press were still in court, the Judge said to the solicitor-advocate “If you want look like something out of Harry Potter you can forget coming to this court ever again. I have been practising in these courts since 1978 and I have never seen a barrister or solicitor appear before these courts wearing a medal or with badges sewn onto his gown.”

The judge said: ‘Here in South Wales we had a barrister, who later became a judge, who had won during the Battle of Normandy the highest order of gallantry in a Victoria Cross. Did you ever see him wearing a medal? He would have considered it the height of vulgarity for such a thing to be done.’

He added: ‘If you ever appear before this court again dressed as you are I shall exercise my right to decline to hear you.’

After reading this article I questioned why it is still so important for job seekers to dress up for job interviews. I have never ever considered not dressing smartly for meetings, and wouldn’t dream of suggesting to my candidates to dress down for an interview. But why should smart appearance be a barometer for someone’s suitability for a job?

The simple answer is that first impressions count. When being considered for a job, in what can be a very competitive race, you do not want to be the one who stands out for the wrong reasons – “oh, he was the one with the great CV but was wearing jeans” or “nice guy and a good fit but the comedy tie let him down”.

The legal profession is, in many ways, a traditional profession with formalities, in the Courts and tribunals for example. Whilst in many other professions wearing what you like is the norm the legal space is still a smart place.

My advice for candidates attending interviews is to always wear smart attire – make as good a first impression as possible from the off; as the saying goes you have to dress to impress.

For guidance on making your next move in law contact Matthew Porter or visit our website BCL Legal.

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