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Is it unethical if your lawyer tells you to wear a short skirt to court?(27 posts)

Is it unethical if your lawyer tells you to wear a short skirt to court?Kristin
Jan 28, 2003 1:32 PM
But then I asked him, "Are you trying to get me convicted?!?"
Your post raises so many questions . .ms
Jan 28, 2003 2:00 PM
that I don't know where to begin. However, I'm not sure that I want to know the answers to the questions. So, I'll just give you a typical lawyer answer: "It depends . . ."
I was just laughing so hardKristin
Jan 28, 2003 2:17 PM
My lawyer is a funny man and the irony of his comment caught me off guard. I mean, I could sue my boss if he said that. But I don't think I could sue my lawyer? Well, perhaps I could if I lost my case because I wore a short skirt.

I was talking with him about going to court for two tickets tomorrow (forgot to renew my plates and speeding). I told him I'd wear a suit, but he suggested that I know enough lingo to make me look smart in the courtroom, so perhaps a short skirt would be better. Hmmmm. Perhaps he has a point. But he hasn't seen my legs either. (Not to insult myself, but my legs don't take me as far as they did 16 years ago.)

I guess I posted this because I was on the board when it happened, and I know how many lawyers hang out here. Have any of you ever suggested that your clients wear suggestive clothing?? (For court appearances or private meetings.)
I don't get what your lawyer was thinking, Kristin -- does hebill
Jan 28, 2003 2:33 PM
know the judge and think that a short skirt would get you a break, or does he think that you'd be better off looking more frivolous, period, because, I'm not sure why because.
Judges have seen it all and probably wouldn't care as long as you showed respect for the forum, which, where you live, may or may not eliminate a short skirt. In front of a jury, your dress should mesh with the themes you're trying to create.
This isn't really what you're asking, but most women lawyers around here dress pretty conservatively, but not all. The ones that don't, wear it and wear it with pride, so that their dress becomes part of their overall projected image. They have no problem using what they've got (visual style), as long as they've got the legal muscle to back it up. In other words, it's not a substitute for competence, but it can be a helluvan adjunct. We've got one lawyer who now is seventy or even more who still wears short Chanel to Court regularly. And she is an absolute tiger, and she looks great (legs are the last to go, I've always heard).
it's National Sarcasm and Bad Humor Day!!!DougSloan
Jan 28, 2003 2:38 PM
No, not unethical. It has nothing to do with ethics. Usually, you should follow your lawyer's advice. Now, I would ask him if he's serious and "why?", though.

Doug
Courtroom dressms
Jan 28, 2003 3:01 PM
There are lots of articles and opinions, based as far as I can tell on pop psychology and other pseudo science, about how one's attire can impact on judges and jurors. Most of my clients are business people and I tell them to dress for court as if they were going to work. My personal philosophy of dress for court or meetings is that if your clothing is going to attract attention, then it will draw attention away from the point you are trying to make. I would lump all kinds of things into the attention category -- from too casual dress (e.g., ripped jeans for court) to too formal dress (e.g., a tuxedo for a business meeting) to wearing bow ties or stange colors (e.g., a pink seersucker suit on a man -- there was a federal judge, now dead, that had one -- but at least he covered it with his robe). But, then, maybe my philosophy is just a reflection of my conservative, boring style of dress.

I would not suggest that a female client wear suggestive clothing to court -- but then my consciouness was raised when I was one of the few male interns for a female member of congress in the late 1970s and my wife would not be to happy if word got back to her that I was advising that clients wear suggestive clothing. However, I do know lawyers that obsess about how clients and witnesses dress for court. And given the right (wrong) judge, I could see a lawyer giving the advice you were given.
Is it selling out to work the system, or foolish not to? Also...cory
Jan 28, 2003 4:53 PM
I've been to court several times as an "expert" witness or just an everyday guy who happened to be standing around and saw something. My normal workday clothes run to khaki pants and a shirt, no tie, casual shoes. In EVERY case, the attorney has advised me to wear a suit and tie, on the theory that I'll be taken more seriously.
I realize your concerns about the sexual/anti-feminist/bimbo aspects of the short skirt, but...what do you gain by NOT going along with what the guy you're paying to defend you says may help?
Also, just in passing, why are you going to court on this to begin with? You didn't register the car; presumably you were speeding. What's to fight?
You haven't heard of Illinios traffic bribary systemKristin
Jan 28, 2003 5:10 PM
Its called court supervision. For just $20 more, the great state of IL promises not to revealing my infraction to my insurance company. How nice of them. My lawyer is there so that I can (hopefully) get the registration ticket tossed. (Come on. It was an oversight. I was buying a house!!)
BTW, I think that your lawyer wants to see you in the skirt. Ibill
Jan 29, 2003 7:30 AM
don't think that he's thinking of anyone else.
Is your lawyer Ally McBeal? nmmohair_chair
Jan 28, 2003 2:08 PM
No. Calista was not available.Kristin
Jan 28, 2003 3:14 PM
But Lucy Lui is taking time out of her schedule to defend me from a of a 15 MPH speeding ticket and my failure to renew my registration in Aurora, IL. She is flying in from Sri Lanka tomorrow morning and even offered to arrange her own transportation to the courthouse from O'Hare. Of course she's doing this all pro-bono because, as she said, she is just excited to meet me in person. I hope she's good in court...I don't want to go to traffic school.
re: Is it unethical if your lawyer tells you to wear a short skirt to court?FTMD
Jan 28, 2003 2:43 PM
Happens all the time, and it's not unethical at all. It might be wrong on some other level, but not ethically. Funny story: I am a prosecutor for a local city and, during the warmer months, see many women attempting the 'cleavage plea.' Never asked the judge how it affects him, though.
Only if it's just for his benefit... nmPdxMark
Jan 28, 2003 3:07 PM
I would tell him to wear a skirt.carnageasada
Jan 28, 2003 3:49 PM
Something short, pink. Especially if he's a little older and heavy around the middle. The judge will feel sorry for you and be so busy with him you'll have nothing to worry about.
You'll have to pay an extra fee for that . . .ms
Jan 28, 2003 7:18 PM
But, wouldn't it be worth it?
Not unethical. Post a pic...No_sprint
Jan 29, 2003 7:29 AM
I'll tell you if it's good advice. I'd imagine it is. Good luck. In my experience here I don't remember *representation* in traffic court. Things could of course be different there.
Personally, I wasn't sure I needed it, but...Kristin
Jan 29, 2003 8:24 AM
He had sent a letter on my behalf to the lousy builders who had ignored my 30-day list, and he did this for free. During the same phone conversation, I mentioned the tickets which I'd just gotten that morning, and he offered to go to court with me. Of course, I agree. Perhaps its just a wasted of money, but being up against two tickets and trying to get one dismissed, his presence might be helpful.
I agree. best of luck! nmNo_sprint
Jan 29, 2003 8:29 AM
Get a second opinion. I don't like the sound of this guy's128
Jan 29, 2003 9:51 AM
"offerings". But you're the better judge of that. (You can inquire of the state Board of Bar Overseers ask if he's ever been subject to discipline.)
He sounds like he's just interested in Kristin. Is heOldEdScott
Jan 29, 2003 12:33 PM
single? He's sending signals like he wants to ask you for a date.
That's kind of a neanderthal way of doing so, though!RhodyRider
Jan 29, 2003 1:03 PM
But then, he's a lawyer, so...shark is as shark does.
OMG you guys!! :-) And he didn't even show up.Kristin
Jan 29, 2003 1:44 PM
He wasn't being serious about the skirt comment--he is kind of a flirt, but totally harmless. He's also married and goes to my church. When I saw him today, I was gonna to make the suggestion that he wear the skirt next time--but he was a no show. Since it was just two basic tickets and I looked every more professional than 90% of the people there (lawyers included), I just smiled and explained to the judge that my lawyer was missing, but that it would be a waist of everyones time to reschedule something so simple. He liked that he he went easy on me. (And I saved $135 :) It turns out that he went to the OTHER county courthouse. Oh well.
LOL!No_sprint
Jan 29, 2003 2:05 PM
Hmmm... Doesn't really sound like too bright a bulb this guy.

Good for you. It's done with. Your judge fell right in line with what generally happens if you go to court. Reductions in fines are typical.
sounds like malpractice to me nmDougSloan
Jan 29, 2003 4:31 PM
Or suggest he wear the pants some time. Good job by you128
Jan 30, 2003 7:12 AM
taking care of business. Again, you're the best judge but personally I would strongly consider droppping him by the next bill, er, hill.
Unethical? No. Boneheaded? (no pun intended) Yes.jtolleson
Jan 29, 2003 5:46 PM
Trying to be friendly and funny with a client while still being professional is an acquired skill, and some never manage to acquire it. So, his failed attempt at humor shows a lack of that skill.

Here's a good one that happened to me two days ago in settlement negotiations... opposing counsel didn't like my offer and said "The only difference between making love and rape is in the presentation." I mean, what a MORON!
holy cowDougSloan
Jan 29, 2003 8:09 PM
Another lawyer said that? Maybe the only difference between a licensed and disbarred lawyer is a comment like that?

There was a judge in Clay County, Missouri, who required women lawyers to wear skirts; he kept one in the courtroom in case they came in pants. Really. He retired mid-1980's.

Doug