Trial Lawyers: Keeping up a Professional Appearance

By: Lala C. Ballatan

A lawyer going into courtfor the trial of the case he is handling is very much alike to the soldiergoing into the battlefields to fight a war. Both must be equipped witheverything they need to win their separate battles.

As a soldier cannot go intobattle wearing flimsy, inappropriate apparel, the lawyer cannot also go intocourt to win a client's lawsuit decked out in inappropriate get-up.

In court, the openingstatements and first instances of arguments serve as a rich venue for thearbitrators, juries and judges to observe the lawyer and form their initialimpressions of him and the case he is representing. Given this reality, a triallawyer must be adept in putting up an appearance and demeanor that will possiblygenerate the most positive influence to form such first impressions.

In the beginning, if alawyer presents an appearance of being offensive, his image more or lessbecomes tarnished for the rest of the proceedings. In the eyes of thoseobserving the lawyer, he already has a lower ethos. However persuasive hisarguments may be, these may also be affected by the initial appearance he hasshown.

There is an existingdiversity in dress standards for every part of the country. In the westernpart, the code of apparel is far more casual and relaxed compared to somesections in the East Coast.

There is no givenrecommendation on the standards of dress codes. However, every lawyer must seeto it that his way of dressing and overall appearance does not radically opposeor offend the general dress standards in the particular area where he willappear for a trial.? Lawyers must also beaware of their audience expectations or standards on how an attorney at lawought to look.

According to Paul MarkSandler in The Daily Record http://www.dailyrecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage, many trial lawyers tend to avoid using bow ties because of the belief thatjuries are not inclined to trust someone wearing bow ties. On the other hand,lawyers who are going to argue appeal cases or are representing cases with nojury trial does not hesitate to use bow ties.

Although a lawyer may prefercolorful or more casual attires, traditional suits remain largely as a goodmanifestation of professionalism and competence, and thus most recommended.

For trial lawyers going intocourt, they must appear conservative in a certain way that is well matched tothe attire they are most comfortable with. His whole get-up must also beconsistent with his regular personal style and adaptable to the expectations ofthe audience.

In accessorizing, the lawyermust be careful in choosing jewelries to match with his outfit. While there isno code regarding wearing of flashy or sparkling jewelry, it could become adistraction, and thus, quite inappropriate in the courtroom.

There is a theory thatopulent jewelry worn by a lawyer could cause some rift between him and thejury's perception of his arguments. The jury would fail to identify with thelawyer's case since they perceive a certain extravagance due to the show ofjewelry.

Aside from a trial lawyer'smode of dressing and accessorizing, here are other equally decisive factorsthat influence the jury or judge's perception of the lawyer and his client'ssuit:

-????????The way a lawyerarranges his documents and materials on the table. If a lawyer wants to conveythe aura of being well prepared, organized and in-control, he must strive tomaintain a neatly arranged table during the course of the trial.

-????????It is adequatelyhelpful for a trial lawyers to learn about the judge's preferences in theconduct of the trial. This would avoid him from suffering unnecessaryembarrassments.

-?????????To gain more impact in a closing argument, itis advisable for a lawyer to move along each juror and make eye contact withhim or her. These gestures instill a powerful impression for each juror,implying that he cares about every one of them and that he is speakingsincerely, rather than saying a piece of memorized script.

-????????The trial lawyer'sdelivery of his arguments must not be wrought with overly dramatic facialexpressions and motions, although making eye contact is recommended.

Every trial lawyer may havedifferent views on how to appear, stand and deliver in court. The generalprinciple is for them to appear comfortable, natural and reliable in order toexude confidence and positive influence.

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