Advice

Do I stand a better chance of getting a training contract if I look like Kim Kardashian?

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I won’t fit in if the legal profession is that superficial

KImK

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one law graduate wants to find out if the rumours are true.

areer

I’ve recently graduated from law school and am seeking a training contract. I’ve been told that appearance goes a long way in the City. Commercial firms like employing attractive young ladies who clients will want to spend time with. I’m the kind of girl who will choose comfort over fashion and eat everything in the fridge. Should I take a page out of Kim Kardashian’s book and enhance my erotic capital to advance my career? Or are the rumours about the profession being shallow just rumours after all?

If you have a career conundrum, email us with it to careers@legalcheek.com.

47 Comments

Anonymous

Whilst I’m sure that appearance is certainly considered, firms would much rather have a consciencous, hard-working and valuable trainee than someone that looks like Kim K and can’t deliver the goods. I think provided that a person dresses appropriately and has good personal hygiene, there is no reason why a firm would choose a good-looking person over another. Clients want good lawyers, not pretty faces (if you have both, luck you…).

(15)(1)

Jones Day Partner

Nonsense. Don’t listen to the above. We’d be happy to have you if you tidy yourself up.

(28)(0)

Anonymous

Try and find a fat future trainee.. I think you’ll find it’s remarkably difficult.

Firms care about appearance more than you realise.

(34)(2)

Anonymous

Obesity is a sign of laziness

(20)(4)

Anonymous

Your mum must be the laziest person in history then

(24)(8)

Tyrion

There are lots of fat trainees. There may not be many morbidly obese trainees simply because those jokers can barely move two feet without getting out of breath. Its a shame the threshold is now so low that being overweight but still able to move around and wear normal clothes is considered not to be diverse. Firms now need to employ whales in order to show how little they care about looks.

With regards to the original question, looks don’t matter too much provided you are presentable and clean (as a previous comment stated). Most of the female trainees are not attractive, the only thing they have going for themselves is that they are young. I’m sure many think they are more attractive than they really are, wear expensive clothes and cake themselves in makeup but we can also see by lunch what people really look like. Yes you do get your odd fit perfect from private school and Bristol/Exeter, but those are maximum 10% of a good intake and the academics those perfects tend to have are simply off the chart. Firms don’t recruit trainees for their looks. If you were going for a job in marketing or as a receptionist then it will be a different story. I would say the majority of the attractive women in firms are to be found from these two pools, honorable mention to HR/Grad recruitment also. However the trainees are on average mediocre at best. So in short, don’t worry about how you look. Also being attractive only helps if you’re prepared to put out and play that game so a bit of a poisoned chalice really.

(5)(6)

R Corbett

I am a smelly ignorant serf.

Do I have a chance of getting an MC TC?

(1)(1)

Dave

No, because each firm would have to spend a fortune on bigger seats for the poor ladies bums for trying to look like good old Kim.

Imagine the likes of Irwin Mitchell and DWF trying to afford more chairs?

(10)(2)

Irwin Mitchell Associate

We have chairs now??

HR told me I was going to have to continue using my upturned cardboard box for another month at least!

Yipee!

(27)(0)

Anonymous

Box?! BOX?! Too extravagant. We’re cutting your budget – time for you to use some initiative. I’ve been using a first seat trainee as a bench. Make them do a plank position and me and a few other partners it on their back. The only downside is that a few have passed out from the strain, do you have any idea how annoying it is having to get up off the floor every thirty seconds?

(13)(0)

Under oath

🎼I like big butts and I cannot lie…🎤

(1)(0)

Anonymous

On that note, I’m a man looking for a training contract. Should I change my sex if I want to get a training contract?

(19)(8)

Anonymous

Ofc if you are attractive you stand a better chance, and I think that applies to both men and women. That said, if you are a massive hot talent but thick as shit, your options might still be limited to only certain firms.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Agreed. A firm called Jones Day comes to mind.

(10)(1)

Corporate Partner

Tbf, if she’s a hottie I will employ her in a heartbeat. No butters birds here.

(5)(7)

Delia

This is what we need – an insight to make evorneye think

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Why is Kim Kardashian the yardstick?

(20)(0)

Henrietta

Oh, Tavi just blogged about this too! I know almost nothing about '90s music, as I grew up listening to Peter Paul & Mary, etc. during those years. haha! But it sounds like an ininsertteg book. Maybe I'll check it out.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Please Legal Cheek staff, I understand you have to create these clickbait “career conundrums” for slow news days and to keep traffic going to your website, but they provide little actual help and if anything just help to build on unsubstantiated myths within the profession, which unfortunately will put people off from applying.

You may not realise it, but as a source of news for many aspiring lawyers/barristers, you have a responsibility to inspire others rather than make up this bullshit. I am pretty sure your sponsors are tired of this type of “story” which contradicts all the sponsored career articles they pay for. The irony is as I type this there is an advert for “Citizenship Foundation – Lawyers in School, Inspire young people”. How can you be doing this when you are trying to suggest someone should use their “erotic capital” to enhance their career?

Please start putting a tag on these career conundrums as “satire”, as that is all they are. Unfortunately there are probably a lot of impressionable people who will read this and any comments as assume it’s gospel.

(72)(3)

Anonymous

Preach!!

(2)(1)

Not Amused

Come to the Bar – we’re untroubled by attractiveness.

(If your question was serious then you are being neurotic. When people say ‘appearance matters’ they mean you have to look PROFESSIONAL)

(3)(4)

Female lawyer

Yes, but looking “professional” does take quite a bit of time, money and effort if you’re a woman, and it isn’t something that all women do anyway. At least one MC firm expects its female trainees/associates to blow-dry their hair!

(14)(1)

Not Amused

I’m increasingly sickened by identity politics. It represents the very worst in human beings.

FYI if someone can reverse the identity in a sentence you write then you are engaging in pointless identity politics. For example:

Yes, but looking “professional” does take quite a bit of time, money and effort if you’re a man, and it isn’t something that all men do anyway. At least one MC firm expects its male trainees/associates to blow-dry their hair!

(2)(10)

Female lawyer

I’m not sure what your point is. That sentence doesn’t make sense with the genders reversed. There isn’t an expectation on men to wear make up or blow dry their hair. The fact that men would be unwelcome in a big city firm if they wore their hair long or wore make up is a related but separate issue.

(21)(3)

Not Amused

“That sentence doesn’t make sense with the genders reversed. ”

There we disagree. I am afraid your comment below further highlights to me that you seem to have an closed and bigoted world view

(3)(15)

Female lawyer

Yes clearly we disagree…! I’m afraid that just saying that you think that someone is closed and bigoted doesn’t make them so, and you haven’t really given any justification for this viewpoint.

If you’re saying that the emphasis on women’s looks in the workplace is driven by women like me then I think you’re mistaken. I think that there genuinely is an expectation for female solicitors to do things like blow-dry their hair and wear some make-up.

Perhaps you’re saying that we should challenge these expectations, and I’d agree with that, but I don’t think that denying that they exist is a good basis for such a challenge. In fact, I think that denying that they exist is the best way of ensuring they are perpetuated.

Perhaps you’re saying that blow-drying hair and wearing make-up are commensurate with the grooming expected of men. With that I’d disagree. A blow-dry takes me 30 mins a time, it took me quite a long time to learn how to do it well, and I do it once every 2 or 3 days. Similarly make up takes me 20 mins in the morning, and it’s not cheap. The time and expense add up. I’m not suggesting that this is some huge injustice, but a lot of female students probably just don’t spend this much time and money on their personal grooming (I never did) and so the question of whether they are going to have to change their habits when they enter the workplace isn’t completely trivial or neurotic. The answer is, yes, in the city, there is a tacit expectation that women will undertake a level of personal grooming that goes beyond what many women in university or other professions will bother with, and which goes beyond what most men do, in the city and elsewhere.

(20)(2)

Anonymous

I am pretty baffled as to how Not Amused can live on the same planet as me and still think that men have to spend time and money on personal grooming to even a marginally similar extent as women. First-world problem, yes, but that doesn’t stop it being a stressful, boring, pressurised, expensive necessity for ‘professional’ women. AND DON’T FORGET THE PINK TAX!!!

(7)(2)

Bobby

I’ve always been surprised at the fact that women I work with choose not to wear navy or grey suits but then complain at the amount of money they have to spend on clothes. It really is an annoying complaint. Somehow wearing bright yellow designer blazers and tiger print shoes is the fault of the male patriarchy.

P.S. I smell better than most of my female colleagues. I keep deodorant in the office and at home, in addition to two sets of other grooming kit. Perhaps I am an exception, but some men do spend a lot on grooming. The majority of my female colleagues don’t smell good for most of the day and tend not to wear much makeup unless they go to an event in the evening.

Interloper

“The fact that men would be unwelcome in a big city firm if they wore their hair long or wore make up is a related but separate issue.”

Who wants goth lawyers ?

(3)(2)

Anonymous

Pretty much every law firm in Scandinavia.

(8)(0)

Scouser of Counsel

Actuall, there’s a certain “shabby chic” at the Bar, certainly amongst the criminal bods.

(5)(1)

Scouser of Counsel

*Actually

(0)(1)

Female lawyer

Well obviously you don’t have to look like Kim Kardashian, but yes, as a woman you will stand a better chance if you look groomed in the way that mainstream notions of female attractiveness demand — i.e. neat hair and nails, a bit of make up, flattering clothes. Obviously men must look groomed but this requires less effort on their part.

I’ve also read somewhere that attractiveness is more of a career advantage for men than women — people don’t associate female attractiveness with competence. So I don’t think it matters whether or not you’re good-looking or attractive, but I do think that not making an effort with your appearance will hold you back. It’s more about looking like someone who wants to conform to social expectations as it is about being attractive. Law firms don’t want anyone who is a bit outside the mainstream in any sense, and being a woman who doesn’t look like she subscribes to general notions about how women should look/behave is a red flag for this reason. Being overweight sadly I think also may hold you back (both genders — prejudiced notions about laziness etc).

I don’t approve of all this but I think that it’s something you have to think about if you want to enter this area. Btw if you are a slightly independently minded person I’d encourage you to think twice before entering commercial law.

By the way, while I support all women’s rights to reject the norms of behaviour offered them by society so far as they feel these don’t work for them, I don’t think that this gives anyone, female or otherwise, the right to be sniffy about those women who DO conform to social expectation in their looks etc. Paying attention to fashion, wearing make-up, wanting to be considered attractive do not make a woman shallow or Kardashian-like. As you identify, many women feel that these things are necessary for making one’s way in society. If you act snobby towards other women in the legal profession you really will feel alienated, as the men are not going to consider you “one of them” just because you “prefer comfort to fashion”, whatever that means.

(14)(1)

Anonymous

‘Law firms don’t want anyone who is a bit outside the mainstream in any sense, and being a woman who doesn’t look like she subscribes to general notions about how women should look/behave is a red flag for this reason’

– so would you consider being an ethnic minority as a ‘red flag’ – (someone outside of the mainstream)

(3)(1)

Female lawyer

Honestly, I would doubt that law firms would want their ethnic minority intake to go above a certain quota. This is just a personal impression and obviously I am not saying that this is an official policy. But I doubt that any big London firm would want, for example, a majority of non-white trainees or associates. I am not saying that I think this is ok by the way.

(3)(1)

Not Amused

“Yes, but looking “professional” does take quite a bit of time, money and effort if you’re a woman, and it isn’t something that all women do anyway. At least one MC firm expects its female trainees/associates to blow-dry their hair!”

Have you considered voting for Mr Trump?

(1)(10)

Anonymous

Not Amused, your ignorance is laughable.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Notice that HR teams usually consist mostly of women and you start to understand why attractive men have an advantage and why attractive women do not.

(2)(8)

Jenn

O baba se plimba prin cimitir. Ajunge ea in dreptul unei gropi proaspat sapate si se opreste sa se uite mai atent la ea. Din spate venea un betiv. S-a oprit betivul langa ea si a inta-brteo:- Ce faci mamae ? Te-ai dezvelit?

(0)(0)

Halo Effect

You don’t need to be stunning to succeed as a lawyer…have you seen how many uglies there are in this profession? However, one cannot deny that being attractive has its advantages in the workplace. You are assumed to be more charming, competent, intelligent etc vs someone who isn’t attractive. Look up the “halo effect”.

(10)(0)

Proelia

What a load of arse.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

There will be hundreds of capable and intelligent applicants. One way to differentiate yourself is to look attractive.

(1)(0)

Litevsky Av Beth Din

The Litevsky concurrs with Proelia. When I hear one compos mentis comment, I would rejoin. But according to QTOI this is not going to happen on this thread, which exemplifies why Egyptian Rhetoric emphasises silence.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Do you write all your comments with auto text?

(4)(0)

@CRProudman

[INSERT OUTRAGED COMMENT HERE]

(4)(0)

Anonymous

I will need to see this girl receiving a BBC on camera before I can decide if she truly mirrors Kim Kardashian.

(4)(1)

Ian Roberts, NQ Solicitors

Having worked as a specialist legal recruiter for several years, have I heard the occasional comment from a client about a candidate’s looks? I’d be lying if I said no, but it has only been very occasional and it’s impossible to say whether these comments were anything more than a throwaway quip.

I can honestly say that I’ve never witnessed an occasion where ‘erotic capital’ has swayed a decision on whether or not to employ a candidate.

The truth is that the legal profession is incredibly competitive. Every law firm is looking for the brightest trainees with the best attitude and a great work ethic, and they will want to mould junior solicitors into their own image.

Does appearance come into this? Undoubtedly yes. But it’s less about looks and superficiality and more about being smartly presented and professional. In today’s ultra-competitive legal market, where even junior solicitors are asked to act as ambassadors for their firm and tasked with building a professional network, it’s fair (and reasonable) to say that if you want to be a successful lawyer then you need to present yourself well.

Of course, it’s fine to say ‘I am who I am’ and that you prefer ‘comfort over fashion’, but you need to be aware that, as a trainee solicitor at a commercially-focussed law firm, your employer will ask you to step out of your ‘comfort zone’ in many ways.

(2)(1)

Comments are closed.