“Overall a good attorney, but she doesn’t dress like one.”

The above quote is from a performance evaluation.  I wish it was from mine.  But sadly, it’s not.

It’s the performance evaluation of Tricia Elam, the author of an article recently published in WaPo.  “I rarely appeared in court,” she says, “so I decided I could be more creative in my styling. I went too far, though, when, inspired by Madonna in ‘Desperately Seeking Susan,’ I began to wear rhinestone jewelry, leather skirts and lace.”

Ms. Elam discusses the difficulty of trying to express one’s individuality and style in a field where  dull gray skirt suits and stubby pumps are the standard.

She expresses optimism for female attorneys and notes the emergence of fashion law as an area where women attorneys might have the chance to have the best of all worlds:

The new scene I envision for my life’s possibilities goes like this: I am in court before a judge who compliments my peplum pantsuit. I represent an up-and-coming designer whose spectacularly ruched handbags have been pirated. I sigh in satisfaction, because finally I can have my law degree and my leopard print, too.

I couldn’t have said it better.  Except that, in my new scene I envision tasteful blue streaks in my hair and nails that are painted black.

Tiny top hat tip to Ms. Elam for being awesome.

Source:  Washington Post

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~ by siouxsielaw on February 28, 2012.

5 Responses to ““Overall a good attorney, but she doesn’t dress like one.””

  1. Blue streaks and black nails sounds like a great combination. I can’t say that I have ever seen a lawyer rock that look in court.

  2. When in college, I was admonished by a traffic court judge for my lack of decorum, as I dared wear short pants to his courtroom. Luckily, he told me, he didn’t care about such things–so we did he ridicule me then?–but I had therefore been forewarned about the possibility of a less lenient and less liberal judge in my future if I didn’t take heed. Maybe I would have worn a suit if my life was on the line, but a traffic ticket? –Come on! I’m not a lawyer, but wanted to share my anecdote as a defendant in a court of law.

    • Your anecdote is what every attorney fears will happen if they deviate from the dress code. I would say you were dressed quite appropriately for going to court over a goddamn traffic ticket.

  3. Sadly, anyone who works in any “professional” environment is subject to the same scrutiny, criticisms and admonishments and you are judged as much by “who” and “what” you wear as your ability to do your job.

    Not fair as how someone looks as nothing to do with their intellectual ability or ability to perform their jobs.

    However, from their point of view from the employer, they are “renting” you to do a job; represent them in a certain way with a certain look that is cohesive and accepted by the industry. A lot of it has to do with where you live and what you as to what is “accepted”

    When I worked at primarily Amish based bank, I had to think of it wearing a “uniform” to be as “when in Rome, do as the Romans” to fit in and sneak in bits of my personality in a single piece.

    On the the other hand, when I am on my own time, I will wear whatever the heck I want; it is my time. I have worn Madonna’s look in “Desperately Seeking Susan” several time and I like the look also, but I don’t wear it to work.

    I can see in one case where a co-worker wore a see-through top that was overly distracting to the men and offending/distracting to the women, it did make a good point. Personally, I could have cared less what she wore, but it was distracting to have everyone talk about it get my work that day.

    I was also ticked off for being dragged into an hour long meeting discussing “dress code”.

    In many cases, women have made strident progress in the workplace; it has been less than 100 years since the 19th Amendment was passed granting women the right to Vote. It will probably take at least that long or more to be appreciated for who we are in the workplace. We will just have to sneak it in one accessory at a time.

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