As business dress becomes more casual, a written dress code policy is important for any law firm. How casual is too casual? Of course, it depends on the day's scheduled events, but assuming that your attorneys won't be going to court or conducting depositions or settlement conferences in the office, what are they expected to wear as they work on their caseloads?
When you're drafting your firm’s dress code, it's important to consider your company culture as well as your geographic location—is your firm in a metropolitan area or is it a rural firm? Then set the goals you want to achieve in a written policy.
Here's a sample law firm dress code that you can modify and tweak to meet the unique needs and personality of your law firm. It can also help you out if you're new to the legal industry and need a few guidelines for the proper dress as you head out for job interviews or cross the threshold of your new firm for the first time.
Law Firm Dress Code Basics
Above all, you should exercise good taste and common sense when you're selecting appropriate business attire. Both casual and business attire should be clean, pressed, and wrinkle-free, without holes or frayed areas. Small logos like Polo or Izod are acceptable, but pictures and large splashes of promotional information on shirts or slacks are not.
Traditional business attire is normally expected when firm personnel is scheduled to meet with clients or visitors. It's also a good idea to keep fresh, professional business attire on standby, waiting in a closet, in the event that attorneys and senior administrative personnel must dress for unplanned court appearances, client meetings, and other events.
Acceptable Clothing for Men
Acceptable clothing for men includes casual slacks, khakis, short or long-sleeved dress shirts, crew and V-necked sweaters with a collared shirt, and cardigans. Acceptable shoes include thin- to medium-sole leather shoes, lace-up loafers, dock shoes, or Rockport style.
Unacceptable clothing for men includes casual shirts without collars, sweatshirts, T-shirts, denim of any type or color, sweat suits, shorts, jogging or warm-up suits, jeans of any color or style, athletic shoes, flip-flops, moccasins, or sandals. Golf shirts with large logos or lettering are also prohibited.
Acceptable Clothing for Women
Acceptable clothing for women includes lightweight sweaters such as turtlenecks, crew, V-neck, and cardigans. Vests worn with short or long-sleeved shirts are also acceptable, as well as blouses, knit tops, and collared polo shirts. Acceptable pants include khakis, linen blends, silk, twills or corduroy, and Capri pants that end close to the ankle.
Acceptable shoes include thin- to medium-sole leather shoes, loafers, pumps or any updated style with a low or stacked heel, open-toed or dress sandals.
Unacceptable clothing for women includes tight, sheer, and low-cut clothing of any style; sweatshirts; T-shirts; denim of any type or color; spaghetti straps; open backs; midriff; tank tops; halter tops; stretch pants; stirrup pants; jogging or warm-up suits; casual shorts; dress shorts; miniskirts; and Capri pants that end close to the knee.
Unacceptable shoes for women include athletic shoes, moccasins, flip-flops, and platform heels.