Suits

I try to avoid wearing a business suit for work – I am more comfortable in sports jacket and trousers, and I think clients and potential clients are more comfortable not dealing with “a suit”

Last week, however, I had to wear a suit on three of the five weeekdays – once for a funeral, once for a meeting at another solicitor’s office and once to attend an auction on behalf of a client.

On each occasion, there was no doubt that a suit was appropriate, but it set me to wondering why: where is the distinction between the occasions when it is appropriate to dress down and when it is not? I don’t think it is a case of wearing a suit on outside appointments and dressing down when on home territory – though that is a part of the reasoning, I think

The funeral, I think, is obvious – it is a mark of respect and, to an extent, evidence of solemnity

The other occasions are similar – demonstrating, to the client as much as to anyone, that I was treating his business with respect and seriously. As I was representing the client on each occasion, respect and seriousness were both appropriate

This is not to say that, when I am in my own office, dressing down is an indication of a lack of respect or seriousness, but I suppose it is true that, on my own territory, I can set the rules more (I would not dream of trying to do so on “foreign” territory), and I choose to have a deliberately less formal or stuffy attitude – I think it helps remove some of the barriers between solicitor and client and enables the client to accept that we are on the same team.

Otherwise, I feel there is a real danger of a client treating his or her own solicitor as part of the problem – another “suit” – rather than as a friendly expert who is on their side

“Approachability” is an important quality for most professionals, and one I try to display


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