Dressing for Court

By Attorney Gregg Herman
June 7, 2013

Today’s ABA Journal summary includes a story about a dad who wore a Nazi uniform to a court hearing where he was asking for visitation rights.  Not surprisingly, the hearing did not go real well for him.

Suggesting how clients should dress is one of those things they don’t teach you in law school.  My former partner, Sharon, lost a child support modification case once when, during her clients plea of poverty that he had no money to pay support, the Assistant Family Court Commissioner asked to see his watch.  It was an incredibly expensive gold Rolex watch.  That hearing didn’t go so well for him, either.

In addition to suggesting that the client not wear any fancy jewelry, men sometimes need to be reminded to dress nicely enough to show respect for the court.  Maybe it’s because I’m male, but it’s more difficult for me to advise female clients.  Again, respect for the proceedings is the key and gaudy jewelry is not a good idea.  Too much revealing clothing can impress some judges (particularly male judges) and irritate others (like female judges).  While the client’s choice of clothing should not win or lose cases, in the real world, divorce lawyers need to discuss this with their clients.

But, my favorite story was from back in my D.A. days.  A defense attorney told me that he needed an adjournment of a drunk driving case which was set for trial.  When I asked why, he pointed out his client, who was wearing a Budweiser t-shirt.  When I stopped laughing, I told him that I wouldn’t object to the adjournment.  The defense attorney became a friend for life and loved to tell the story.

Attorney Gregg Herman is a founding partner of Loeb & Herman S.C. in Milwaukee, WI. He practices family law exclusively, and can be reached via e-mail or by calling (414) 272-5632.