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Why You Should Re-Evaluate Your Courtroom Appearance

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Whether it be wearing a jacket and tie or getting a new haircut, professionals have always been told to look their best in the career world. But, why?

People make snap judgments based on your appearance

In fact, over half of all first impressions are not based on how you act, but the way you look. Yet, when working in the legal field, these impressions can dictate the way people perceive your words, character, and even your firm’s brand. Therefore, it’s crucial that your appearance gives off a positive impression that matches your actions– especially in the courtroom.

Here are four different ways you should re-evaluate your appearance before your next court date.

Hair

For better or worse, hairstyles and cuts can affect your overall appearance on the job and your first impression on others. An unkempt bedhead can herald images of inexperienced youth, while a healthy, tamed style often signifies maturity, success, and thoughtfulness in the courtroom.

For men: Fairly short, controlled, and thick hair is seen as most professional. Consider using gel and getting a haircut every eight weeks to keep your locks in check, and if you start to notice thinning, speak with your doctor about a medication to treat balding and thicken your hair. These small steps should help you maintain an image of professionalism that will stand out to clients and colleagues.

For women: Thick, healthy, and pulled-back hair can help you come across as more successful and assertive. Try to use a daily styling gel to keep flyaway tamed, and throw your hair into an up-do like a stylish ponytail, bun, or bobby-pinned crown. This way, your hair will enhance your air of professionalism without drawing too much attention away from your case.

Outfit

The clothes you wear can make a huge impact on the way others in the room view you. A well-tailored suit or blouse exudes professionalism while a pair of jeans or a clunky jacket can be distracting. Be sure your clothes merely serve as a reinforcement of your knowledge and career experience, not as a statement.

Consider wearing navy or gray, which are seen as serious but not boring, and avoid red so that you don’t come across as loud or intrusive. Always wear business attire to best represent your client and case. Keep in mind, however, that when first meeting your clients, the dress code is a little less strict. Try dressing to match whomever you will be representing to better develop your relationship and seem more approachable. If they are a blue-collar worker, perhaps you should leave the jacket and tie at home. If they are a wealthy CEO, you might want to wear black and shine your shoes. If you have any confusion, reference an online guide to be sure you’re dressing the part.

Smile

Although many of the topics you’re likely to be talking about in the courtroom are serious, remember that a smile during breaks can leave a lasting impression of trustworthiness on people. In fact, a smile is the first thing that others are likely to notice about you and can represent characteristics of warmth and honesty that colleagues will subconsciously associate with you.

Try to take care of your teeth as much as possible in order to appear put-together and professional. Beyond biannual visits to the dentist and regular flossing, you should be sure you’re confident in your smile so you won’t hesitate to flash it. Consider addressing any insecurities you have with your teeth, whether that be by utilizing whitening strips or maybe aligners to straighten your teeth. Investing in a little oral self-care will ensure you look and feel confident in the courtroom.

Stance

Even the way you stand and move can make others in the room draw inferences about you. Nonverbal body language speaks volumes to colleagues about your confidence and capability and can captivate audiences during statements.

Be sure to stand with your shoulders back and your head high. This will not only give you a more polished look, but it can actually boost your own self-esteem and create a self-fulfilling prophecy of confidence. Regular hand gestures can also put others at ease and help them feel like you’re approachable and likable. These small tricks can be game-changers when dealing with difficult or sensitive clients, judges, and jurors by making you seem more honest.

Taking these few steps to ensure you’re entering the workplace with confidence every day will allow you to communicate more effectively and persuasively while improving your performance in the courtroom.


Leopard Solutions is an online resource for real-time legal data and insights for law firms, corporations, law schools, recruiters, and attorneys. Our suite of data intelligence tools helps you with business development, firmographics, marketing, and data analysis. Our tools are popular with HR teams, talent acquisition/recruiters, business development, sales, and marketing teams.

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