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What to Wear

Just Say No To Business Casual

Although there are a number of law firms that have adopted business casual as their standard dress code, never assume that you can arrive to an interview this way. Even if you are instructed to dress down for an interview, ignore this advice! Your interviewers already have jobs. You don't.

Irina recently interviewed at a prestigious firm known for its relaxed working environment and casual dress code. The recruiting coordinator who set up Irina's interview told her to dress casually, emphasizing the fact that the firm management welcomed casual attire and that most of their candidates wore casual clothes to their interviews. Irina did not comply with these instructions and wore a traditional dark suit to her interview instead. She discovered she made a wise choice. It turned out that the hiring partner who was the key decision maker in Irina's hiring disapproved of the casual dress code. In fact, this partner always wore suits to the office, even though most of his colleagues dressed casually. Irina firmly believes that she owes her job at this firm to wearing a suit that day.

Many of your interviewers may honestly think that by inviting you to dress casually to an interview, they are advertising one of the firm's biggest perks. Nevertheless, they will subconsciously judge you if you follow their advice and dress down. With the possible exception of very laid-back firms, entertainment companies, and small boutiques, it is almost never appropriate to wear anything other than traditional business attire to a legal interview. But there is also no need to inform the recruiting coordinator about your plan to disregard his or her advice and wear a suit. Simply show up wearing one. No one will ever fault you for dressing in a way that advertises your respect for the position and your professionalism.

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