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Mike Kelly in June’s issue of Legal Managment

Posted by Levine Communications Office on July 9, 2012


If you deal with a diverse group of clients, you may need to alter your outfits accordingly. Some companies feel a slight style upgrade conveys a sense of respect. “The rule of thumb is whatever your client’s dress code is, go one step above,” said Patrick Ross, a Partner at Haskell & White LLP, an accounting and business consulting firm headquartered in Irvine, California, with a business casual dress code. Other firms, such as The Law Offices of Kelly Fernandez & Karney, which has three offices in California, encourage very formal dress — whether firm members are meeting with clients or not. Men at the firm wear ties, jackets and suits. Receptionists and the office manager also dress up; there’s no regularly scheduled casual Friday, and jeans aren’t allowed.

Firm owner Michael Kelly feels the firm’s fashion conveys competence and pride in its work. “I have a lot of motion picture clients who may dress casually, but they appreciate our professionalism,” he said. When first meeting a client, particularly one from outside the United States, Quinn Emanuel attorneys typically wear business attire — although clients don’t seem to mind the firm’s relaxed look. “What often happens is if they come to our offices all the time, they’ll eventually adopt more casual clothing,” Urquhart said. “After a while, they’re wearing khakis and polo shirts.”

Less formal gear may also be acceptable, or even encouraged, when meeting clients outside the office who work in an extremely casual environment. “I’ve heard from some lawyers from Silicon Valley that if they walk into Google or [another] tech company in a three-piece suit, people are going to take notice — everyone else may be in jeans,” Volkert said. And employees may not stare just because you’re a sharp dresser. “If you walk into a tech company in a suit and tie, everyone wonders who’s getting fired,” Fitzgarrald said. “No one wants the suit.”


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