Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rule #22: "Wear a Suit"

One of the first things we notice about someone is their style of dress. We make judgements about their personality, their state of mind, their confidence. And perceptions aren't just important, they may be everything. Seems simple enough.

I enjoy wearing suits. I believe my clients like it when they see me in one. My wife tells me I'm handsome in a suit. Prospective clients expect to see their lawyer-to-be in one. I've got a closet full of them. So for goodness sake . . . wear a suit.

Each time I meet with a client (except maybe weekends) or tussle with a prosecutor I like wearing a suit. When a client first meets me I want to make clear I'm a pro. In my business pros wear a suit.  Nobody was ever impressed with a flip-flopper. Perception can be the difference between signing a new client or losing a sale.

So the rule is wear a suit. You just never know when perception will be everything. Appearances matter and first impressions last, especially in the life and work of a criminal defense attorney.


Jeff Gamso said...

And yet some of the pictures of you (I assume that's you) on your website - and the one on your blog (which is why I decided to look at the website) are of a guy wearing a sportcoat and an open-at-the-collar shirt without a tie - at least one with just the open shirt, no sportcoat.


Stephen Gustitis said...

Jeff: I obviously wasn't meeting a client that day. Nice observation. :-)

Amelia said...

I think this is solid advice. I mean, I'm a woman, but even then, dressing professionally is always important. Even a dui attorney needs to be as best dressed as he/she can to let the client know they mean business. You're very right! Thank you for sharing! :) Now if only the clients felt the same way...;)

Miscellaneous Lawyer said...

Do you think there are ever times when it is appropriate not to be in a suit?
A senior lawyer at my firm only ever wears a suit (or even a tie...) when he goes to court.

Stephen Gustitis said...

For a woman, dress is even more important. Unfortunately, women are scrutinized much more than men in this regard. That is, they are expected to always look their best. A man might get away with wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt to the office, but never a woman. But the important thing is that a well-dressed woman exudes power and authority, which are always a plus. Thanks for your comment.

Stephen Gustitis said...

Many lawyers like to wear casual clothes to the office, provided they are not seeing clients. That's probably ok. But I like to look my best all the time. I like other lawyers, my competition, to see me in a suit (or at least a sports coat) during regular working hours, even at our local Subway. I simply think it makes a better impression and I'd like everyone to remember me always "ready."