Biglaw, Fashion, Fashion Is Fun

It’s The Jones Day Dress Code

You just wonder if Jones Day could try recruiting adults instead of making a bunch of rules to regulate the kids they have there. Think about it: one of the defining features of Jones Day is its policy of secrecy regarding attorney compensation. The firm is worried about petty jealousies sprouting up between competing attorneys over compensation. Other firms handle this problem by assuming their people can act like trained professionals, Jones Day thinks that its people can’t handle the truth.

This condescending view doesn’t just apply to salary information. Apparently, Jones Day employees cannot be trusted to dress themselves without explicit instructions.

Jones Day has so many nanny-state policies that I’m surprised Mike Bloomberg isn’t a partner in the firm…

Apparently, Jones Day managers have been displeased by the dress sense of their employees. They want things to be more formal around the office. And so Jones Day decided to scale back its business-casual dress to something that’s only available as a perk on Fridays. And even on Fridays, management felt the need to threaten people into following the dress code:

Re: Business Casual Dress Policy

Despite numerous communications explaining our business casual dress code, over the last several summers many lawyers and staff have not complied with the spirit of our policy and have dressed inappropriately. Accordingly, this summer business casual attire will be permitted only on Fridays.

As a reminder, the key word in our business casual policy is business. Clothing that works well for the beach, exercise sessions, night clubs and shopping malls should not be worn to work. While business casual attire is permissible on Fridays, it is by no means mandatory. We assume you will consider your client and other responsibilities, and the image of the Firm generally, in connection with the foregoing.

All doubts about the appropriateness of a particular item should be resolved in favor of the more conservative approach. To ensure that we maintain a professional environment, anyone who is inappropriately dressed will be reminded of the policy. As in the past, repeated noncompliance will result in the individual being sent home to change, and the resulting time away from the office will be charged to vacation.

This reminds me of a note I once received from Sister Rose, about tucking my shirt in, when I was eight.

Jones Day management is emphasizing that it’s running a business, and yet it’s management that is talking about sending people home — like they’re being suspended from school for acting up in class. Essentially they’re telling us that they will take an employee who is working hard, billing hours, providing service to his clients, and making money for the firm — and then preventing that employee from continuing that work for a time because of his attire?

That’s hypocritical. For the love of God, sometimes people are wearing “exercise” gear because they don’t have a lot of time to work out while they are busting their ass for the firm. People are busy, they’re trying to multitask. They’re trying to multitask because they are trying to be available for work all the time.

Look, I don’t have anything against people wearing suits to work. Often enough, that’s the appropriate attire. It’s just that I trust adults — professional adults — to figure it out on their own.

Maybe Jones Day should worry less about the appearance of their people, and more about the substance of the people they’re hiring?

(hidden for your protection)

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