King’s College London student Jessy Howard reports from the mini-pupillage and law firm work placement front line via Legal Cheek‘s new ‘Lawyer Looks’ Pinterest board
1. Dark and formal at the bar
When I was offered my first mini-pupillage, the barrister I would be shadowing gave me two words of advice on the dress code: dark and formal. My rainbow-coloured wardrobe would require supplementing.
2. A dash of colour is OK at law firms
While chambers look down on colour, my experience so far of the solicitors’ branch of the profession — including two large international firms — is that you can risk, for example, a red cardigan or that gold, peacock tie you bought in Selfridges. Go sparingly, though. Men: save bow ties, cravats and neckerchiefs for when you eventually get a job.
3. Skirts should be just above the knee
The two women in the pictures above have got it about right. Too short and you risk not being taken seriously, and too long can look frumpy.
4. Matching skirts and jackets don’t come cheap
From what I’ve noticed, women barristers always seem to match their skirts to their jackets. Solicitors do this less. A word to the wise: the ONLY place I’ve been able to find to buy affordable and matching skirt suits is M&S (I got mine there for £60). I spent six hours schlepping through Oxford Street before I realised this. Matching skirt suits do not exist anywhere else below £300. If it doesn’t fit, get it altered. Believe me, it will still be cheaper.
5. Make uncontroversial jewellery choices
Be as demure as possible on this one. I once heard a barrister complaining about a former mini-pupil’s nose ring. For women, small pearl or fake diamond earrings work well. The alternative is a stud earring. Avoid heart shapes. Similarly, modest necklaces or a simple ring are good choices. Guys, a ring is fine but nothing else I’m afraid.
6. And then there are the shoes…
Ladies, if you’re anywhere but a big corporate law firm, wear flats or low heels. After all, you might be getting up at 6am and running across town to Woolwich County Court in time for an 8am client briefing.
Opinion is split about wearing high heels in the City. Some firms think heels are inappropriate, while others encourage them. However, just from walking around the City or spending time in a firm waiting room, it’s clear that most women seem to choose heels.
7. Hide any tattoos — even if they are law-themed
Tattoos seem to still be pretty taboo in both law firms and chambers. So hide them — unless, maybe, if you’re working for a really cool, hippy human rights or environment lawyer and your tattoo is equally cool and hip.