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Lawyers spend nearly £30k on work clothes and three months planning what to wear

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More stress codes than dress codes

New research reveals lawyers spend £26,508 on work clothes over the course of their careers. This staggering sum is both more than the average annual wage in the UK and more than what some City firms pay their trainees.

This hefty clothes spend — which breaks down to £47 per month and £564 per year — doesn’t seem to be born out of a desire to be fashion-forward. For the amount of dosh lawyers throw at their wardrobes, they kind of seem to hate dressing themselves: 67% find it difficult to choose what to wear to work and 29% say it leads to stressful decisions. Lawyers also waste a lot of time navigating these ‘stress codes’, the average lawyer spending three months of their life contemplating what to wear to work.

With little joy apparently gained from lawyer dressing, why do they splash so much cash? The research, by totaljobs, cites the criticism lawyers face when they don’t fit company culture. Seventeen percent of the 500 survey respondents say they feel pressured to dress a certain way, yet 11% admit there’s a lack of clarity about what the company code actually is. Getting it wrong can lead to catty comments: When dressed casually, 17% have been told they look tired and 9% have been asked if they’re sick.

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Where is this workplace dress stress coming from? We all know the legal profession is one of the most conservative out there, favouring traditional, formal suits in dark colours over anything remotely Rihanna at the Met Gala.

However, techy giants have shown that you can don a T-shirt and jeans and still be professional, powerful and rich. Lawyers — some of whom are representing these tech companies while others are incorporating the tech they’re marketing into their working lives — may see burning their ties and splurging on a pair of Vans as the perfect homage to Mark Zuckerberg and co.

This shift in mood is reflected in the relaxing of (some) City outfit dress codes.

Take Travers Smith, whose solicitors are now able to wear “business casual” clothing when not in client meetings or working on client floors. The same is true at CMS, a firm which unveiled a new casual dress code post-merger to help its lawyers integrate.

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20 Comments

Anonymous

Surprised it’s not more? A decent suit can easily cost that

(20)(4)

Anonymous

Little need to spend more than £12k on a suit, you flash bastard

(45)(2)

Anonymous

A lot of firms do seem to be moving to permit smart casual at work so long as you have a suit around for client meetings. Realistically the suited code should only be driven by clients who, understandably, want to know that we are taking their matters seriously. I’ve got no time for crusty partners moaning about ‘standards’, and I think that sentiment is echoed by most other young lawyers.

(11)(3)

Anonymous

I wear trainers round the office.

I also own 25 ties and pairs of cufflinks.

(7)(2)

Pepe

I have about 20ks worth of suits.. and (thankfully) I’m in jeans, a shirt and trainers on a Weds…

Don’t bother buying wardrobes… The office dress code thing is evaporating.. and it’s a good thing..

(4)(1)

Anonymous

I’m a trainee and I have one suit buried somewhere in my wardrobe. It’s very much a business casual at the city firm I work at.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

At £47 per month it would take 47 years of work to reach the £26,502 sum…

Where is the 47 years of work assumption from? Who were the respondents?

I looked at the link provided to the totaljobs research however it does not actually link to the research but a related opinion piece by television and radio presenter Anita Rani on her fight against office dress codes and its impact on women…

(31)(0)

Anonymous

Also if you NPV that at 8% it comes out at £6,860. Not a huge amount for a ridiculously long career.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Top Lawyering.

(0)(0)

Criminal barrister

Just about the favourite thing about my job is that I roll out of bed in the morning and put on one of my black/dark grey skirt suits, a black/white top and a black pair of shoes while all my friends in cooler jobs spend hours trying to coordinate and accessorise. Even if my hair looks a bit shit it doesn’t matter – I’ll have a wig on top of it all day.

Thank you, crusty criminal court dress code.

(47)(1)

Anonymous

I know one bloke in Reading who has worn the same suit (or at least the same type of suit) for years, without exception!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I agree entirely

(0)(0)

Corbyn. Symphathiser

Jones Day Partner must still be on holiday, no jokes about wanting to save his trainees some money.

(6)(1)

Jones Day Managing Partner

At Jones Day, it’s clothing optional every day

(43)(2)

Corbyn. Symphathiser

Oh, just the morning off, today, then. Happy New Year!

(12)(0)

Wash n Wear

They forgot to add dry cleaning to that bill :/

(2)(0)

Anonymous

“This staggering sum is both more than the average annual wage in the UK and more than what some City firms pay their trainees.”

What greedy, scum-filled law firms in the City are paying trainees less than £35K pa?! It doesn’t matter what size the firm is, the work load at any City shop will be higher than a regional outfit, and staff will have to deal with London cost of living. I have several uni friends who trained and still work at 20-60 lawyer firms in the City (and not American outposts, just traditional City born and bred shops), and they have always worked damn hard!

I am aware of the SRA’s current minimum requirement of £20k and change, but if you consider how many City lawyers are older career changers with responsibilities, or even just common decency for those living off of trainee wages in London for 2 years, paying trainees less than £35k should be a crime.

(1)(0)

JP

My trainee salary in London was £18k. This is quite common outside of the big commercial practices. It was… difficult.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Wow. Please tell me this was back in the 90s or earlier. I also really hope you didn’t stay with the firm as a junior solicitor.

(1)(0)

Cynical Cynthia

Katie, please don’t pretend that this doesn’t apply to you, darling.

(0)(0)

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