Monday, September 30, 2013

Maybe I Should Grow a Ponytail?

During a recent court appearance, I observed a fellow member of the bar mosey on confidently into the courtroom.  Wearing a cowboy hat and western boots, the bucking barrister confidently swung open the doors leading to the wingtip worn carpet before the judge's bench. He exuded the swagger of a gun slinger bellying up to the bar of a wild west saloon.  His John Wayne persona seemed to have struck a cord with an unrepresented defendant in the peanut gallery. "Can I have your business card?" he pleaded.  "Sure pardner"  he replied.  Ok, maybe he didn't say "pardner" but the look seemed to work for him.  "I need to change my look."  I thought.  I approached the problem as I would any case.  I began my research into the world of lawyer fashion. 

Luckily, my busy law practice provided a steady stream of opportunities to
stealthily observe my bar brethren. At one time or another, we had cases scheduled in all 24 criminal court houses in the state. I was able to see what attorneys were wearing in all four corners of the Nutmeg State.  Armed with a notepad and an unmatched attention to detail,  I furiously began scribbling notes. I observed that criminal defense lawyers who sported ponytails always had interesting clients like terrorists, political activists and the occasional pirate.  I looked further.  I saw that a well regarded public defender wore sneakers instead of wingtips.  A private criminal defense attorney wore a fedora when he came to court. Others wore bowties or seer sucker suits.  One attorney I saw was a part time wrestler.  It was hard to miss him. The guy was a tank. I glanced at myself in the mirror. "Look at you." I groused.  "Same old, same old.  Navy blue pin striped suit with either a white or blue shirt. How boring can you be?" I needed to spice things up.  I would start off slow.  I decided to wear a brown suit to court.  

Truth be told, I felt out of place in the suit. "This is what Lady Gaga must feel like" I mused.  It affected my performance.  In my old suit, I felt comfortable and that translated into confidence. I didn't know this suit.  It was foreign to me.  A brown suit?  What was I thinking?  I looked like a fancy UPS delivery man. When I got back to the office, I changed back into old blue.  "That's better"  The brown suit wouldn't work.  I would have to go another route.  I needed inspiration. I looked towards television attorneys.  Scanning the channels, I passed on Matlock's powder blue seer sucker suit and My Cousin Vinny's leather jacket ensemble.  I didn't have the legs for Ally McBeal's short skirts. Maybe I should stick to real attorneys. I glanced at my copy of "How to Argue and Win Every Time" by attorney Gerry Spence. Maybe I could emulate him.  When you thought of tough attorneys, no one was tougher than Gerry.  All I needed was a black turtleneck and a buckskin leather jacket with a little fringe.  I vainly searched through my sister's closet looking for her old White Snake leather jacket.  No luck.  I decided to move on.

"Think Baron! " I thunk to myself.  Who is a successful lawyer? I remembered Gloria Allred.  She was on tv all the time.  She was famous for her red suits.  Maybe I could play off that?  My last name was Baron.  Maybe I could be the "Red Baron"  I could come to court wearing one of those old timey leather aviator caps complete with goggles that barnstorming pilots used to wear.   I could add a flowing scarf with my law firm logo.  "Too much" I thought.   Maybe I could go the Ron Kuby route and grow a ponytail? 


I shared my plan with an older attorney I often turned to for advice. "Leave the ponytails to Steven Seagal and ponies" he replied gruffly while chomping on a cigar.  "You don't need a gimmick. Just look like everyone else. " Maybe he was right.  For now I would stick with my tired old pinstriped suit. I assimilated with the Borg. I went and bought some more blue and white dress shirts. 


Areas of practice include Ewok bites, lightsaber injuries,
wrongful termination for not finding the droids you were looking for,
and workers comp related injuries on Death Stars. 
OK. So the article was a bit tongue in cheek.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's one thing for an attorney to don a leather jacket so he can portray himself as a "biker guy" to get motorcycle accident claims.  It's another when the attorney is actually a biker.  Gimmicky attorneys aside, I think it's OK to break from the corporate mold.  Or as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it "to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” As long as you respect court decorum and do right by your clients, there is nothing wrong with standing out a bit from the crowd.  It's what successful people do.

Now, I am not suggesting you come to work dressed as your favorite Star Wars character.  If you are a corporate lawyer, I am certain your multi-million dollar client doesn't want to be represented by an attorney wearing a cape.  If you want to play for the Yankees, you might have to shave your sideburns to wear that particular pinstripe suit. But I'm in private practice.  The rules are different.  I can grow an old timey mustache.  I can be a cowboy.   Maybe I will give that brown suit a second try.  And I need a hat. Definitely a hat.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Wearing a cowboy hat and western boots, the bucking barrister confidently swung open the doors leading to the wingtip worn carpet before the judge's bench. He exuded the swagger of a gun slinger bellying up to the bar of a wild west saloon".

You paint a great picture Adrian. lol

Jim Stevens said...

I thought I was the only one who noticed. I love those lawyers who pose on motorcycles as if they are real bikers. So ridiculous. They look so out of place. Great post Adrian.

Anonymous said...

Adrian. I enjoy your entertaining posts. Marvelous work.

Sean Valjean said...

I love your description of the lawyer that walked in. Whatever you end up doing I would try not to overdo it.

Bonnie said...

No ponytail. Please.

Jess said...

See, things are a lot easier for Archaeologists. We just have to avoid being completely covered in mud and try not to look too much like we're imitating Indiana Jones.

Sadly, that means fedoras are out.

lola davis said...

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Sam Esh said...

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