Ed. note: It’s Biglaw interview season, and your friends here at Above the Law would like to give you the best fashion advice possible to ensure your success in the “new normal.” Today, we’ll be focusing on our female readers. This post is written by Mandana Dayani (USC Gould School of Law ’07), a former Paul Hastings associate who currently serves as Vice President and General Counsel of Rachel Zoe, Inc.
I will never forget the panic and angst surrounding on-campus interviews — the constant reformatting of résumés, the sudden competitiveness of your friends, the pressure of finding the right job, and for most of us, the daunting task of figuring out the perfect outfit that gives the best first impression. When it comes to interview attire, my advice is to present yourself with a look that does not detract from the focus of the meeting — you want to impress your potential boss with your sophistication and capability. Keep it classic, nothing too trendy or polarizing, and let your style come through with a couple of carefully selected accessories…
I see you all enjoyed your vacations. I saw the 175 pictures you posted on Facebook of every single place you went, and now I see you “can’t believe your baby is starting 7th grade.” So now that it’s time to get back to work and figure out what to do about all those clients calling you as a result of seeing you on the first page of Google, I will again offer you life-changing advice for which you come here weekly.
This advice is all real, and in no particular order.
1. If you have an office, or even a desk, take every single thing off the top. I did this the other day. Clean it, and then place everything back, except the stack of papers that belong in a file or the garbage, the magazines and articles you’re never going to read, and the items that do nothing but take up otherwise workable space. This will cost you no money, take about 15-20 minutes, and you will thank me. Well, not all of you…
Remember those annoying gunners in high school? Running around joining every club and running for student government so they can pad their résumés with yet another achievement to become just slightly more attractive?
Well, this Tracy Flick stand-in puts all those gunners to shame. She may even have the best plan for gaming the American law school system yet: getting admitted in the U.K. first.
Enter Gabrielle Turnquest. She’s 18 and the youngest lawyer in the history of the U.K.
I’m not usually the one to give sartorial advice around here. My blogging attire can be exclusively purchased from MLB Shop if I so desire. I need a suit or two for television and then, whatever, it doesn’t matter and I don’t care.
But back when I was in Biglaw and I had to be presentable, I appreciated some basic advice from the people who cared about how I looked way more than I did. Don’t confuse the issue with your WASP-y tales of Seersucker Saturdays. Just tell me the bare minimum I have to do to fit into your shallow little club, and I’ll do it. I really can’t stand people who are all like, “Well Jasper, did you see that chap wearing white after Labor Day? How gauche.” But if that’s going to be a rule that affects my professional advancement, just tell me and I’ll follow it. Biglaw pays enough for people to invest in their wardrobe in whatever arcane ways are required.
So, in a way, one can appreciate this list put together by an office managing partner of a national law firm about the business casual dress code for men. Sure, it comes from an annoying place of conformity that values style over substance. Sure, it’s a document dripping with low-grade sexism that contemplates a time when men were men and somebody else did their laundry.
But we’re talking about guys who work at law firms, we’re not talking about rebels; nobody should be trying to be a hero. Everybody should just wear what they’re told…
* Marshall University is no longer a defendant in a case about a student shooting bottle rockets out of his anus. So from now on your sum total knowledge of the Thundering Herd involves the movie We Are Marshall and “shooting bottle rockets out of anuses.” [West Virginia Record]
* Documentary filmmaker files suit seeking declaratory judgment that “Happy Birthday to You” is in the public domain. Why hasn’t everyone just accepted Larry Lessig’s new birthday song? [New York Times]
* Men tend to think professional dress is one part white/blue shirt and one part brown/black/navy slacks. There’s more to it than that. Well, if you want to look good at all, there’s more to it than that. [Corporette]
* Market realities catch up with law school plans. Pour a little out for the proposed Arlington Law School. [ARL Now]
* Rough legal question: Should the U.S. refuse to send a child to a country employing Islamic family law? [Volokh Conspiracy]
* A federal judge ordered HHS to give a little girl a lung transplant. Popehat wonders who lost out on a transplant in this exchange. I’m wondering why there aren’t more lung donors out there. [Popehat]
When temperatures soar, so do women’s hemlines. When cold fronts drop, women’s necklines do too. This is standard when it comes to the general populace, but we’ve come to expect more from professional women — especially from attorneys. Law is a very conservative field, and if you show too much skin, you may be looked down upon. And if we have to use the term “may,” you know that people will be talking about you behind your back if your clothes are too racy.
Yes, it’s hot out, and that’s too bad. Ditch the sleeveless dresses, throw out your above-the-knee skirts, and don’t you even dare to wear a pair of peep-toes. Sorry, ladies, but you still have to dress like pilgrims, especially if you’re in the South.
If you’re lucky enough to be an attorney with breasts in a southern state, even showing an elbow will earn you a reprimand from this judge…
Last week, we wrote about the acquittal of a man who gunned down a sex worker because she wouldn’t have sex with him. Apparently in Texas, someone taking your property at night is all the excuse you need to employ deadly force, even if the supposed “theft” involves an unarmed woman unwilling to have sex.
Blow me or be blown away. I think we’ve found the new state motto of Texas.
By the way, do you know what the state motto of Texas is? If you think it’s something badass like “Don’t Mess With Texas” (which actually isn’t that cool), you’re wrong. It’s “Friendship.” My proposal is way better.
Now comes the counterpoint to the open season on prostitutes…
A law school friend told me about a deposition he defended in Waco, Texas, where the temperature reached 105 degrees. At the time, my friend Geoff was an associate at a stuffy BigLaw firm, and there was never any doubt that he was required to wear a suit. And especially because the deposition was videotaped, the witness did, too.
Plaintiffs’ counsel was the owner of a smallish firm in Florida and he showed up wearing shorts, sandals and a short-sleeved polo shirt.
When they arrived at the deposition location, Geoff and his witness were dismayed to learn that the air conditioning wasn’t working. As the day progressed, the conference room grew increasingly warm. By late morning, the witness was restless and hot and kept firing glances across the room to the dormant air conditioner. The video was priceless; every answer was punctuated by the witness sweating and mopping his forehead. Geoff told me later that he thought his witness looked like he was lying even when he wasn’t.
It’s just nice clothing. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
Are you afraid of fashion? You’re not alone.
Many male lawyers would rather not deal with picking clothes. These attorneys can negotiate billion-dollar deals or address juries without fear, but the concept of “business casual” fills them with terror.
If you count yourself among the fashion-impaired — or if you see yourself as stylish, but in need of a wardrobe expansion — here are two lawyers who can help….
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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