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

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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.

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52 Comments

Anonymous

Did you vet the people who took the twitter poll?

1) many of your readers/followers are probably not lawyers yet, meaning the headline is misleading at best.

2) for those that are lawyers, many won’t have responsibility for hiring decisions and so does it really matter what their opinion is or is not when it comes to the likelihood of a potential discrimination case? (I can’t see how it would be discrimination unless the tattoo was deemed to be relevant to a protected characteristic though).

(15)(4)

Anonymous

1) Although LC are not the leading example for solid demographic sampling methods, it is supposed to be a relatively representative sample of those in the profession. That’s how surveys work. That being said after reading the comments on several articles, and also being honest with myself, I do believe a disproportionate number of people who subscribe and respond to LC on social media have a chip on their shoulder.

2) It will be hard for anyone to prove a discrimination case no matter what opinions you can prove, as tattoos are not a protected characteristic (unless a new law has been drafted since I last checked at the end of last year?). The obvious exception being religious markings. That’s why the employment solicitor quoted last had to wrap up the tattoo claim into an age discrimination claim, which again, will be hard/impossible to prove if the firm takes other trainees of the same age or younger that don’t have tattoos.

(3)(3)

Anonymous

Not necessarily. To be successful in an indirect discrimination claim you only need to show the practice disadvantaged a particular group of people (it is more likely young people would have tattoos and therefore young people as a whole may be disadvantaged) and not why the it disadvantaged the group.
Obviously not as easy to succeed on as direct discrimination, but still possible.

(2)(0)

Alan P

Tattoos are ugly and chavvy. End of.

(50)(21)

Anonymous

In your opinion.

(17)(13)

Anonymous

Not acceptable.

(3)(4)

Anonymous

come to the 21st century. It’s a matter of personal choice, respect it !!!

(3)(5)

Anonymous

Oh dear. I hope you aren’t a Partner responsible for checking people’s work.

*you’re

(29)(1)

The most offended person in the World

That’s the most Tatooist thing I’ve ever heard!

(5)(0)

Anonymous

When you spell it like that with the missing “T”, it makes me think of a bunch of Jawas and Tusken Raiders getting triggered and crying together in a sit-in.

Yup, that was Star Wars SJW joke.

(3)(2)

Teen Movie Bully

NERD!!

(0)(0)

Jones day equititty

get laid fam

(0)(5)

Corbyn. Sympathiser.

I enjoyed this post.

(0)(2)

Jones Day Partner

I agree. It’s an easy way for us to identify them on our monthly recruitment drives too, saves having to have that as the opening sift question.

(8)(1)

Tat Fan

Katie, do you have a dog in this fight? I think your readers need to know: do you have one, where and what is it?

(2)(0)

Elgar

I would also love to know. Perhaps a follow-up article. No nudes or near nudes though, you are classier than that (but as a general point, remember that Snap Chat of course does not count) . If you don’t have one Katie, then perhaps couple of polls to decide what and where?

(5)(1)

A

I somewhat agree, when it comes to professionalism unfortunately traditional and conservative views come first. Having said that, having a tattoo that is hidden and will not be shown off does not mean one looks unprofessional. One could have a large back piece covering most of the body but still be fantastic in their legal profession, without the need of showing it off. You can’t judge a book by its cover, especially when it’s wearing a suit.

(8)(0)

Raj

I wonder if Katie King has a tattoo. I think Katie King is likely to have a tattoo. I like tattoos, especially those that aren’t so visible.

(6)(4)

Corbyn. Sympathiser.

Raj, your contribution is a bit creepy, if you don’t mind my saying.

(7)(5)

Jones Day Junior Associate

What is creepy about it? I agree with Raj, I imagine Katie King has a delightful selection of treasured tattoos hidden away waiting to be discovered. I bet they suit her great, just like her nice smile.

(8)(4)

Corbyn. Sympathiser.

Speculating over the body of a woman you don’t know, especially those in places that “aren’t so visible” (I assume he is referring to tattoos in a private area, and not tattoos made with ultraviolet ink) is creepy. Just so you know.

(6)(7)

Jones Day Partner

You’ll never get a job here. Just so you know.

Jones Day Junior Associate

You are right, I unfortunately have not had the pleasure of getting to know Katie King so well. Yet her classy choice of attire (rarely shows much leg) leads me to believe that Raj may have been speculating about tattoos on Katie’s lower thigh, or perhaps her soft upper arm. Oh the mysteries. Why is it creepy? I do not get what is creepy about this.

Anonymous

Oh look another useless article I wonder who wrote it… *checks author* yep seems about right.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

Serious question… why do you keep reading legal cheek if you don’t like the work of the writer who produces at least 50% of the content? It’s frankly weird that people come back day after day to complain. I just don’t read blogs by people whose views I’m not interested in.

(8)(2)

Anonymous

Sorry Katie.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

It’s the comments section people are interested in, I believe.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

This right here is my answer. I am the anon of 12:29 by the way. LC would be no where without it’s comment section.

(2)(0)

Jones Day Junior Associate

Don’t be so mean to Katie King. She is really really really lovely, and she also has a nice smile.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

She looks like a fucking horse mate. I thought Jones day were supposed to be good at spotting the hotties. KK is certainly not one of them

(3)(20)

Jones Day Junior Associate

A horse? She is too fine to be equine. Have you seen her LinkedIn photograph? She looks just wonderful there. Stunning some may say, and she is wearing one of the most lovely versions of her smile in that photograph. I sometimes put it as my background on my mobile telephone.

(19)(1)

Anonymous

Epic bantz.

Alex Farter-Ruck

It is horrendously politically incorrect of me to say so but Katie’s LinkedIn picture is absolutely stunning ….. Apologies, Charlotte P, if this is deemed to be sexist and misogynistic of me and don’t tell my wife!!

Anonymous

Crap and mean comment. Not funny. Why are the commenters on this website such turds?

(7)(4)

Anonymous

Why are the journalists on this website bad journalists?

Anonymous

Tramp stamps are heavily encouraged at Jones Day though

(1)(0)

Married MC Senior Associate who JDGAF

My 22 year old secretary has a tramp stamp that says “despacito” LOL

(2)(0)

Jones Day Junior Associate

22 – nice. I bet things are still nice and firm, and she is on an age where she is keen to impress. I imagine there isn’t much that she would say no to. Are you hiring?

(5)(2)

Anonymous

Still on tag, mate?

Bail conditions to stay at least 100 yards from all schools and sixth-form colleges?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Tattoos aren’t a protected characteristic – it’s a choice and it’s very easy to get one somewhere not visible when you’re wearing business wear! I doubt someone with pink hair would be looked on favourably within the legal profession either.

Discrimination? Get a grip! It’s nothing like discriminating against someone due to race or gender.

I don’t care what anyone says, if I needed legal assistance and I was assigned to a solicitor with ‘MUM’ tattoo on on show, I would deem this to be highly unprofessional and I would question why they would choose to do this in such a professional role. I would definitely seek legal assistance elsewhere.

(7)(4)

Jacob

You sound like a horrible stuck up piece of work.

I would either ignore a tattoo (none of my business really and completely does not relate to the quality of advice the individual should be able to provide), or, ask some questions about it if I thought it looked interesting for one reason or another. In any event a tattoo would show to me that this lawyer has a bit more to them and that they don’t just conform to the norm for the sake of appeasing uppity, small minded individuals like you.

Jog on, can’t wait until people like you retire an the workforce becomes more liberal and productive.

(14)(10)

Mr Objective

Tattoos are for narcissistic attention seeking knobs. At home in prison, not in law firms. All of you idealists who got “body art” will realise when you’re old what jerks you were

(7)(6)

Generation Y

Lighten up you boring, old, close minded fart

(9)(4)

Anonymous

As I said When you’re 50 tattoos (which were happening 20 years earlier) faded and bingo wings wrinkled you’ll realise what a twat you were

(0)(2)

A More fun solicitor than you.

I have a big tattoo of lady justice that I gifted myself when I qualified and a few others lovely pieces of art work about the body. I always wear long sleeves and suits to work and I rarely get naked or work out with colleagues! When we hit the hotel pool on a business trips it raises a few eyebrows but I couldn’t really give a damn, they hired me because I’m good and not a massive square! I’m not embarrassed about it, but the reality is you have to play to your conservative audience sometimes and cover up the real you to get the job in the first place.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Hear, hear!

(0)(0)

zn

Personally I am put off by them. Although they can be covered up in the workplace, there is still an aura of stupidity about it. What happens when you regret it? You are left with a scar, which is probably better than the tattoo. I just don’t get why anyone would pay someone to draw on them? It must be for the benefit of others because nobody could possibly want to stare at the same stupid tattoo for the rest of their lives (unless they have Alzheimers and need to remember their spouse’s name lol)

(1)(6)

zn

I would not date a man with a tattoo, especially not if he was proud of it.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

Are you saying I should not have compared tattoos at my interview with the managing partner at the 200 partner firm that went on to offer me a training contract?

I should tell them that 64% of lawyers with the inclination to respond to tweets would disagree with their decision.

(1)(0)

zn

That’s fallacious thinking. I’m not saying that nobody likes them. Evidently some people like them a lot. I just don’t understand the mindset that’s all. It’s just a personality difference and I’m not suggesting mine is better btw, just different. Lawyers are just people (arguably) so why wouldn’t a person who happens to be a managing director happen to like them? I don’t get your point really. You must agree though that it is wise to cover them up at an interview because more likely than not the interviewer will not be impressed. The fact that you and the interviewer both like tattoos obviously helped you in that situation ….an interviewer comparing tattoos is a bit wierd if you ask me -I hope the tattoo wasn’t your best attribute. That was a joke btw.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

I got “Lord Denning” done in comic sans just above my cock.

(0)(3)

zn

You want to be reminded of him like that? Excited by him I take it lol…..reading It is bluebell time in Kent is not enough for you lol

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.