Talk amongst yourselves

Last evening, I spoke to the Robert Van Pelt American Inn of Court here in Lincoln. Years ago, I served as the Inn’s administrator, so I was happy to return to speak to the group about blogging.

I used a live hook up to the Internet, a big screen and a projector. I went through some posts, as well as a “behind the scenes look” at the blogging platform I use. I hoped to illustrate why I think that blogging can be a good thing for the bench and bar, and particularly the federal courts. My theme: It is all about transparency.

I touched on about 10 posts including a post entitled On being a dirty old man and how young women lawyers dress. A spirited discussion about the “dirty old man” post ensued.

It was fascinating, and the discussion was almost entirely fueled by comments from women. One female judge, who is not a prude, commented that the post generated so much heat because it highlighted a truth about inappropriate wearing apparel in court. On the other hand, a very experienced female trial lawyer said the post hit a nerve because it highlighted another truth, that is, women lawyers carry heavier burdens than men in the courtroom. One astute questioner wanted to know my target audience and my primary message. I said the audience was young female lawyers, and the importance of understanding that in the courtroom, “It is not about you.” She seemed skeptical.

Recognizing that this group was predisposed to be nice to me, I don’t pretend that last night’s discussion was representative of the views of anyone, women or men. But, I can say the topic remains one of significant interest to judges and lawyers. In other venues, the topic–how lawyers (both men and women) dress in court–deserves respectful discussion. However, having touched the third rail once with painful consequences, I don’t intend that this blog is the place to engage in such a discussion. As Linda Richman used to say, “talk amongst yourselves.”


10 responses

  1. RGK,
    At the risk of being rude to some hopeful men and ladies, I don’t give two shits about fashion sense or wearing “progressive” outfits.” I am there representing a client, not modeling clothes. When I appear in court, I have better things to do than engage in a sartorial game of oneupsmanship with opposing counsel. When I meet witha client in my office, I am wearing a suit to show that I am professional and worth the money they spend on me. Clothes should have one purpose in either situation: create an aura of credibility.

    Bah humbug!


  2. As an RVP member, I am sorry I missed your presentation. Unfortunately I had something more important, but less interesting to do last night after close of business hours. Rod moved our firm out of downtown Lincoln in 2000, which has some advantages, but the drawback is that its a pain to get downtown to things like RVP, the courthouses or the legislature.

  3. If you were more honest about how judges ruled — that they only followed the law when they liked where it took them — I would be more supportive, as we desperately need that kind of candor. But when I ruminate on what “law” has become in America — that legal appeals mean less than sex appeal — I am mortified. When your “rights” are what a judge wants them to be on any given day, and their contours can be determined by how sexy your counsel is (full disclosure, I am less sexy than Rod Stewart), it stops being legal realism, and becomes legal surrealism.

  4. A woman could wear ten-inch heels, bikini bottoms, and a garbage bag with antennas glued to her head and still be considered appropriately attired for a room where a man in a dress sits on a throne passing literal judgment on other human beings.

  5. Let me throw in a client’s perspective.
    If I ever need a defense lawyer, I will not care what the lawyer wears when I interviewed him or her. I work in a field where “suit” is a pejorative, but I know that in law the standards are different. I’ll look at references and behaviors to figure out if the lawyer acts professionally.
    But when it comes to appearing in court, I want a lawyer who wears whatever maximizes my chances of staying out of jail. If the solid red tie gives me a .1% better chance of staying out of jail than the pink tie, wear the red. If the judge tells you he’s a dirty old man, dress appropriately.
    The idea that a lawyer would taking anything else into consideration is frightening, especially for someone who can’t directly evaluate a lawyer’s competency.

  6. While Judge RGK is momentary verklempt over between the bench and the bar, and we are to talk amongst and/or between ourselves in the interim …

    Before I start talking I would like to say something …

    Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.” (Butch Hancock)

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    Immers zal ik een abonnement op uw rss -feed en ik hoop dat je snel weer schrijven !

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