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What Clothes Will I Need in Law School?

A new law student, Blaine, asked a great question that many new law students are probably wondering by posting a Comment here: New Law School Students’ Most Common Questions. If anyone has other questions, please post a Comment. Here is Blaine’s question:

Question: As a first year student, how many business suits do I need? When will I wear them? What do students normally wear to classes?

Answer:

I. Formal Attire. The number of suits or formal outfits needed your first year depends on the number of formal events during your first year.

Socials. At my law school, there is a semi-formal social event for law students each year. Some guys wear a suit, some wear a sport coat, and others wear a nice dress shirt with no tie. Since only students attend, I suggest wearing what most of the guys will be wearing, which at our school is a nice shirt without a tie, so as not to appear too stuffy, but this depends on your personality and school environment.

I Own Blackacre Jr. Ringer T-ShirtClass Speeches. A suit is needed (or at least highly suggested) when presenting oral arguments during your legal research and writing skills class. This is a graded speech presenting legal arguments to a mock court.

Job Interviews. A suit is also necessary during the fall of your second year for On Campus Interviews (OCI) when law students interview with law firms in hopes of getting hired.

What to Buy. Because a suit is only needed once or twice during your first year, I would suggest having one black suit, but no more than one is necessary. Regarding shirts and ties, the legal profession is very conservative, so unfortunately the stylish green or pink dress shirts are not appropriate. A blue or plain white dress shirt is good. But I think the best is a white shirt with a faint pattern, which is conservative without being completely boring.

During finals, appearance and clothes don't matter as muchII. Dress for Regular Classes. At my law school, the dress for regular classes ranges from dress pants (like some stylish Ben Sherman pants) with collared shirts (possibly untucked) to jeans and a t-shirt. New students tend to dress more stylish in the beginning, but as final exams approach, it is not uncommon for guys to miss their morning shave and for girls to arrive in sweatpants without wearing make-up. (They realize first-impressions are over, and grades are more important to their future.) Of course, other schools may be different, and more formal schools may have an increased number of people dressing up. But unless required, guys rarely wear ties to class, let alone a sport coat or suit.

If other students have had different experiences, please post a Comment here. Do any girls have advice for new female law students?

Leave a Comment

  • 2L July 12, 2006, 12:51 am

    The CALI Pre-Law Blog mentioned some good additions to this topic. I especially liked the comment about how clothing is not something new students need to worry about because 1) casual dress is fine for class and 2) students are given notice if special attire is required for an event.

  • 2L December 17, 2009, 1:24 pm

    I have to comment on wearing “what you’d wear to undergrad” in law school. You’re always making impressions, even if they’re not your first impressions. Feel free to dress casually as classes go on, but don’t dress like undergrads dress. In undergrad, I saw guys show up in pajama pants, a hoodie, and a beanie (although I assume not many of them made it to law school). If you’re one to make good impressions all the time, dress how you would to casual office on it’s casual Friday.