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Law Without Suits: New Hires Flout Tradition [WSJ]

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by needshoehelp, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. haganah

    haganah Senior member

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    I have a hard time naming a single major firm in NYC that isn't business casual. Cravath comes to mind, but business casual is the norm at nearly all the top Vault firms.
    I have friends at those 2 and always see them in suits. I interact with associates at places like Wilke and Dewey and Jones and only see them in suits (because of meetings). So I had no idea most were bus cas. Wow.
     
  2. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    I'd be surprised if firms like Cadwalader or Winston & Strawn don't have a formal dress policy which outlines what you can and cannot wear. Even firms which have adopted casual dress codes generally maintain such a policy (e.g. no sweats, no jeans, no collarless shirts, no open-toed shoes for men, etc.). When I used to work at a large firm that adopted the casual dress code, people would get sent home to change from time to time for violating the rules.

    To me, what's more sad is that the article indicates that many professionals in their twenties wouldn't know how to dress up even if they wanted to. Perhaps it won't be the case in 20 years (or even 10 years) but, in this day and age, every man should know how to dress in a suit even if they don't have to on a daily basis.
     
  3. mafoofan

    mafoofan THE FOO Dubiously Honored

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    I have friends at those 2 and always see them in suits. I interact with associates at places like Wilke and Dewey and Jones and only see them in suits (because of meetings). So I had no idea most were bus cas. Wow.

    I can tell you for a fact that the firms you named are all business casual. We're typically asked to keep a suit in the office 'just in case'. But even then, a lot of people don't comply.

    The number of black suits is depressing. Everyone seems to dress as Reservoir Dogs as possible.
     
  4. mafoofan

    mafoofan THE FOO Dubiously Honored

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    To me, what's more sad is that the article indicates that many professionals in their twenties wouldn't know how to dress up even if they wanted to. Perhaps it won't be the case in 20 years (or even 10 years) but, in this day and age, every man should know how to dress in a suit even if they don't have to on a daily basis.

    I mean, people can tie their ties and tuck in their shirts, but I agree that twenty-something lawyers don't typically know how to 'wear' a suit in the way SF idealizes. Everyone wants to look 'European', which means a form-fitting black suit and a 'cool' tie.
     
  5. constant struggle

    constant struggle Senior member

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    i wish work was either suits or casual
    business casual is the worst... i feel i dress too sloppy within this category compared to wearing a suit or wearing jeans and a shirt/sweater/whatever...

    working at a big financial institute it is really bad here as well
     
  6. josepidal

    josepidal Senior member

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    Most firms place an emphasis on culture. You don't even have to have guidelines because your people seem bred for it. I suppose the occasional black sheep gets in, but they don't do well in other areas either and tend to be short hires.
    Tell that to your typical junior partner in a New York office of at least a couple hundred lawyers.
     
  7. A Canuker

    A Canuker Senior member

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    I work at a retail brokerage house and and amazed at what some of the other youner guys wear. I must admit I don't always do a tie with a sports coat but with a suit its a near must. There was one younger guy here who sported a constant 3 day old beard every day.

    They don't polish shoes, no ties, never see anyone with a pocket square. Jeans to see clients...it's sort of sad.
     
  8. haganah

    haganah Senior member

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    I can tell you for a fact that the firms you named are all business casual. We're typically asked to keep a suit in the office 'just in case'. But even then, a lot of people don't comply. The number of black suits is depressing. Everyone seems to dress as Reservoir Dogs as possible.
    I honestly don't take as much offense to the black suit as you guys do. But I know where you're coming from because I think I saw a girl once wearing a shiny Bebe outfit she thought was dressy in our office.
     
  9. edmorel

    edmorel Quality Seller!! Dubiously Honored

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    I hate law firms, their associates and their partners (except lawyerdad and Ed from HK, they are gentlemen. And great customers[​IMG] ). The casual ones dress like euro trash and the business formal ones dress like a JC Penny catalog. Plus, they all have this smug attitude, and talk tons of sh*t in the elevators. Newsflash, j/o's, no one cares how late you were in the office or if you came in over the weekend. STFU!
     
  10. romafan

    romafan Senior member

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    One of my analysts showed up the other day in khaki pants and a wrinkled BB shirt. We went to the ATM, took about a couple hundred and walked over to BB to fix his mistake.

    He was not happy.


    Good one! I know someone who had the audacity to show up for work at a small boutique brokerage house (this was back in the '80's) wearing a blue shirt, but otherwise impeccably dressed. His boss took one look at him and growled "You think you're in the f***in' air force?"
     
  11. ColeFieldHouse

    ColeFieldHouse Senior member

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    Good one! I know someone who had the audacity to show up for work at a small boutique brokerage house (this was back in the '80's) wearing a blue shirt, but otherwise impeccably dressed. His boss took one look at him and growled "You think you're in the f***in' air force?"

    That might top the ATM.

    The problem with business casual seems not to be with the absence of the suit itself but with the absence of neatness. Because nobody seems to really know what it is, business casual ends up functioning as an invitation to 'anything goes' dressing.
     
  12. romafan

    romafan Senior member

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    That might top the ATM.

    The problem with business casual seems not to be with the absence of the suit itself but with the absence of neatness. Because nobody seems to really know what it is, business casual ends up functioning as an invitation to 'anything goes' dressing.


    He was sent to BB, too. He took in good stride, but was glad he hadn't chosen to break ranks with his pink shirt.....
     
  13. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    I don't think anyone quoted in that article comes off looking good.
    +1
    I find this hard to believe unless it's a rinky dink shop.

    Most firms place an emphasis on culture. You don't even have to have guidelines because your people seem bred for it. I suppose the occasional black sheep gets in, but they don't do well in other areas either and tend to be short hires.

    No, as mafoofan points out, business casual is quite widespread in the BigLaw world. My first job as a lawyer -- and this was, well, let's just say more than ten years ago -- was at a well-known 400+ lawyer firm (admittedly, maybe not so big by today's standards) where business casual prevailed, and even the boundaries of what passed for "business casual" were pretty fluid. Certainly at the Los Angeles offices of firms like Winston & Strawn, Howrey, Sullivan & Cromwell, Latham & Watkins, Mannat Phelps, and Irell & Manella, just to name a few off the top of my head, you'll see plenty of suitless lawyers.
    It sometimes goes to ridiculous -- and misleading -- extremes. One LA-based firm has always touted its complete absence of any dress code -- people show up to work in flip-flops, cut-offs, etc. -- in its recruiting. On the flip side, they've long been known for working their associates ridiculously hard, even by big law firm standards. Maybe I'm out of step with the times, but I'd rather wear a suit and then go home at a reasonable hour to put on jeans and spend time with my family than work 85-hour weeks in board shorts and a tank top.
    I have yet to see any of my friends working at firms like Skadden and Cravath dress like this. Maybe Jacoby and Meyers or one of the places that advertises on television asking if your child has lead poisoning.
    Nope. Major national firms.
    I have a hard time naming a single major firm in NYC that isn't business casual. Cravath comes to mind, but business casual is the norm at nearly all the top Vault firms.

    Do you even work for a law firm? Your statements are ridiculous: "people seem bred for it"? Give me a break. Law school--yes, even the good ones--aren't typically filled with aristocracy.


    Yes, I'm not even sure what the "bred for it" comment means. "Culture" is something firms talk about more than a reality, although of course any large institution does tend to take on a certain personality over time. To the extent it exists and survives, it does so through the communication of that culture to younger generations, either through informal example-setting or formal guideline-promulgation.

    Saying that people are "bred" to dress a certain way and that dress codes are irrelevant is just wildly wrong. Law firm associates are "bred" in law school, where the majority of us dragged our butts to class in jeans or sweats. The "top" firms don't recruit based on breeding or social upbringing, they recruit mostly on academic performance.

    The "short term hires" comment bears no relationship to reality, either. Law firm associates succeed in their firms primarily through some combination of: diligence; quality of work; business generated or the perceived ability to generate business; and finding and making oneself essential to a mentor.
     
  14. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    That part of "guys" not polishing their shoes is disgusting, but then I suppose most of those guys own no shoes that are worth polishing anyways. It would probably be high hope to even presume they own something like Johnston & Murphy.

    I also love how they perceive dressing up as a threat to their "intellect." Somehow a lot of people, especially career people, tend to think vanity as something counter to their own "hard-work" and intellectual prowess.
     
  15. haganah

    haganah Senior member

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    I have a hard time naming a single major firm in NYC that isn't business casual. Cravath comes to mind, but business casual is the norm at nearly all the top Vault firms. Do you even work for a law firm? Your statements are ridiculous: "people seem bred for it"? Give me a break. Law school--yes, even the good ones--aren't typically filled with aristocracy.
    I like how you edited your post after my response. No I do not work at a law firm. I never indicated I did. In fact my responses indicate I don't (friends mentioned, meetings with lawyers, etc.). So pay better attention next time, yes. And there are strong firm cultures in several businesses (whether in finance, whether in consulting like Bain, or law firms like Cravath). I didn't claim to be an expert on law firms or say that I worked at one. I relayed my experience that my friends at those firms always dress up. You said the same for Cravath. Get off your high horse.
     

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