Tips for Lawyers and Clients on Dressing for Court

Originally published April 12, 2021. Updated July 19, 2023.

Whether you’re preparing to make a first appearance in court or you’re simply brushing up on what’s expected, we’ve outlined some tips for both attorneys and their clients on how to best dress for an appearance in court.

How Lawyers Should Dress for Court

The location of the court you’ll be appearing in will help you understand how to dress. Traditionally, attire in metropolitan areas will be more formal than in rural areas, but it’s still important to follow these tips regardless of where you’ll be appearing in court.

Err on the Side of Traditional

Suits (and ties, for men) are the outfit of choice for attorneys. Stick with traditional designs and avoid anything too out-of-the-box. The same goes for any accessories you choose to pair with your suit. Choose dress shoes that match the attire you wear.

Avoid Flashy Colors

Neutral colors are best suited for courtrooms and formal legal proceedings. This applies to suits, shirts, and any accessories you choose to go with your outfit. Navy, gray, blue, white, and—in some cases—black are all solid choices.

Groom Before Appearing in Court

Preparing for court is about more than just the attire you choose. It’s also about making sure you’re well groomed. Though you don’t necessarily need to go to a barber or stylist before every court appearance, you should ensure your hair and nails are neatly maintained. This includes trimmed beards for men.

How Clients Should Dress for Court

Though the same general rules can apply for clients as for lawyers, clients don’t have to be quite as formal as attorneys. That said, it’s still important to ensure your clients look neat and presentable, as their appearance can impact the way they’re viewed by the judge and jury.

Here’s how you should instruct your clients to dress for their court appearance.

Dress Like You’re Going to a Job Interview

It’s not necessary for clients to wear a nice suit if they’re appearing in court. However, dress slacks, a button-up shirt, and a tie works nicely for men. Even a good polo shirt is preferrable to a t-shirt, which should be avoided if possible. For women, a court-appropriate outfit could include a conservative dress, pant suit, or a pair of slacks with a modest top. Wear dress shoes that match the attire.

Avoid Casual Wear

Avoid wearing anything that might be considered too casual, which means avoiding t-shirts, sleeveless shirts, crop tops, shorts, flip flops, baseball caps, or athletic wear.

Grooming Is Also Important for Clients

Just like attorneys, clients should also strive to make sure they are groomed properly before appearing in court. They should comb or brush their hair, trim their nails, shave, and, if necessary, consider using eye drops to eliminate excessive redness in the eyes. As their lawyer, you can help them put their best foot forward by sharing these best practices. 

About backdocket

At backdocket, we’re all about helping attorneys and legal professionals put THEIR best feet forward. Our practice management software helps small- to mid-size law firms grow their practices by streamlining processes, improving communication, automating tasks, and better managing their case tracking.

If you’d like to learn how backdocket can grow your firm, contact our team today to schedule a free demonstration.

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