Clerkships

25 04 2008

Predicting how to dress for a clerkship is a tricky thing to do because it depends almost entirely on the judge you work for. I’ve heard of judges who require attire ranging from business formal to jeans and a T-shirt.  On your first day, the safest thing to do is to wear a suit and take it from there. Once you get started, you should take your cues from the judge you clerk for, the other clerks, and the other judges on the court.

In my experience, clerks are frequently in and out of the courtroom so, in general, you should opt for more formal attire. If the judge does not require business formal attire on a regular basis, you should keep a suit on hand, in case you want to (or have to) go to court.

Despite the wide variation in clerkship attire, the average dress code seems to be conservative business casual.

Here’s what you do:

For the Ladies. On the bottom, go with pants or a conservative skirt (just below the knee is best). One the top, wear a collared shirt or sweater (or both). Stick to dark colors and conservative styles. Clothes that are less likely to be acceptable include: print dresses, flowy colorful skirts, Capri pants, sleeveless shirts, open-toed shoes, and shoes with a high heel. Keep makeup natural-looking and accessories conservative.

For the Gentlemen. Men should wear dress shirts and dark colored slacks (gray, brown, black, and navy). Maybe throw a sweater on over it. Stick with conservative black or brown leather shoes. Don’t wear khakis, polo shirts, or tennis shoes. Avoid jewelry other than a watch and wedding ring. And finally, if you’re starting work right out of school, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a haircut. Yes, that means you.

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