Revealed: 60% of lawyers think visible tattoos are not acceptable in their firms and chambers

Avatar photo

By Katie King on

Could we see a discrimination case in the near future?

The majority of lawyers think tattoos are still not acceptable in their firms and chambers.

Of the 622 Twitter users who responded to our poll, 60% thought visible ink was still taboo in their workplace.

This result is perhaps unsurprising given readers’ responses to a tattoo-themed career conundrum Legal Cheek ran last year, which asked whether body art fans will be accepted into corporate firms.

Though the 84 comments we received were varied, most concluded visible tats and City firms do not mix.

One commenter noted: “it is reality that having a visible tattoo severely limits your options of working at a City firm due to current works dress etiquette etc. So if you got a tattoo whilst having ambitions of working in a City law firm, that is objectively a very poor decision on your part.” Another said: “there is a difference between what is accepted at the bar and what is accepted at a corporate firm… [C]ommon sense would say that more [corporate lawyer] clients are likely to be conservative and disapproving of things like tattoos.”

While lawyers’ tattoo-friendliness may well depend on practice area, etc, research released this week seems to show the legal profession is not unique in its sceptical approach. Data collected by human resources course provider DPG asked 1,000 hiring professionals whether tattoos are an undesirable feature in candidates; 64% said they were.

The results led Paul Drew, managing director of DPG, to conclude:

With such a large amount of the population possessing tattoos, discrimination represents a very real problem that threatens to limit talented workers from entering the workforce… I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a large discrimination case soon.

Is this as far-fetched as it seems? Polly Jeanneret, an employment law solicitor at Halebury, told us:

The law as it stands at the moment could, potentially, hold an employer liable for discrimination in relation to a ban on tattoos if it could be demonstrated, for example, that such a ban had a disproportionate impact on young candidates and that the ban was not justifiable as a legitimate aim.

She added:

A company dress code is fine in principle — having standards is completely legitimate — but any code must also move with the times.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek’s careers events, sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub here.