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Hey Women Lawyers: Men Judges Think Your Outfits are Out of Order!

sexy_judge.jpg

Last week, at a panel session during the Seventh Circuit Bar Association in Indianapolis, a couple of judges aired a grievance regarding women in the courtroom. Their complaint? Lady lawyers are dressing too damn sexy!

Discussion of this all-important issue included the thought by Chief Judge Michael McCluskey that some women come to court wearing "skirts so short that there's no way they can sit down and blouses so short there's no way the judges wouldn't look," and Bankruptcy Judge Benjamin Goldgar's belief that female lawyers' clothing is "a huge problem." He said sometimes he wishes he could tell the female lawyer before him, "I'd really like to pay attention to your argument." But he can't, you know, because her boobs are too distracting.

What's next? Keeping women out of the courtroom entirely because some of the male judges can't handle their pretty hair or nice eyes?

I understand wanting both men and women to dress professionally in the courtroom (one of the judges complained that a woman lawyer wore a velour tracksuit to court, which is obviously not all that appropriate) but singling women out for wearing short skirts or blouses is not only ridiculous, it's also sexist (and just gross). Can't the judges keep it in their robes and think about baseball or something? And what about women judges? Would it be okay for them to say that they didn't want men lawyers to wear pants that showed their bulge, because they are unable to pay attention to their arguments when all they can think of is hot lawyer sex?

Oh, and if it weren't annoying enough, the ABA titled their article "Male Judges Advise Women Lawyers to Lose the Distracting 'Ally McBeal' Look." Not only is that completely condescending, but it is also a decade-old cultural reference. If these judges are going to be such creepy pervs, can't they at least compare their women colleagues to a present-day sexy television lawyer?

At any rate, if this discussion is worth having at all it should be extended to include both men and women, and should be about appropriate courtroom attire and not women's skirt lengths. As my lawyer friend who emailed me the article so eloquently stated,

To me, the Judge's comments are more inappropriate than the attire. Super-creepy. From my experience, I have never seen a female lawyer dressed inappropriately in this court. [in Portland] And for such a casual city, I've never seen anything remotely track-suity. 99% of the men and women just wear business suits. And, of course, MY big beef are these judgmental oldies who are swimming in suits two sizes too big with inane ties from the 90s

What do you think? Should sexiness in the courtroom be addressed in this manner? Should it be applied to both sexes, or should women be held to a different standard? Have any of you encountered sentiments like these at your workplace?

For more info, check out the New York Times piece on this issue and the ABA comments section

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Comments

9 comments have been made. Post a comment.

That sexy judge outfit

is a) hilarious and b) such a dumb halloween costume!! Who wants to be a sexy judge?

But seriously, that sounds ridiculous. More ridiculousness in the New York Times can be found here...Ridiculous.

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Kjerstin Johnson, editor-in-chief
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

I've rarely see members of

I've rarely see members of the law profession of either sex to dress in anything but business western attire, but it happens.

Maybe I am crazy, but I think it's an exaggeration to call the comment's on the judge's behalf "creepy". Just because you add snark to an article it aint make it so. Provocative dressing is provocative for a reason, it's there to call attention to itself and the assets that you are trying to "show off". I don't think they are seriously distracted by women who dress inappropriately, more like annoyed.

There is no real widely used "men's equivalent" to a short skirt or a low cut shirt, men have...suits, women have more options, so the whole "hey but they are singling out women!" argument is irrelevant and makes me about die from rolling my eyes so hard.

Gross

While I'm sure that there are some cases of inappropriate court dress I highly doubt that it's at the levels these male judges are claiming. I'm sorry that you as a chauvinistic man are distracted by the fact that I have breasts, you're just going to have to get over it. I've also heard of judges who refuse to let women lawters wear pants suits in their court room. The judges in this article are old fashioned and disgusting.

Matters like this should be addressed to BOTH sexes by BOTH sexes. No one will pay any seriously professional attention to this article because of the way the subject has been approached.

Yes, professional dress

Yes, professional dress needs to be addressed and established by both men and women. However, I AM distracted by the cleavage! Me, a straight, conservative female! It is not appropriate and does not make me respect the person wearing it! I shop at Brooks Bros. for my suits. I’d rather look professional in the office than like I just walked out of the club. I save the “other” attire for my own time, when I don’t have people looking to me to be professional. Women using their sexuality so blatantly earns them no respect. Unfortunately, women are doing so in increasing numbers. I’m currently a law student and it seems as if the new students have decided there is no dress code and the trendier the better. I worked at 2 banks previously with very conservative dress codes and know the proper way to dress…where did this get lost? Our law school had a forum on proper dress last year that bored me but it was probably new to others…this year they failed to have one and I think it was more needed than ever! I’ve seen more cheek cleavage from short dresses in the halls than I saw on a Saturday night in undergrad…

Gross? The outfits, perhaps.

We do not know how many cases of unprofessional dress the judges are claiming. The severity, while perhaps surprising to some, is quite plausible. It is an issue with men and women, and I have heard instances of both sexes being reprimanded. Clearly professional dress needs to be addressed and established by both men and women.

As for the rest of your post: I AM distracted by the cleavage! Me, a straight, conservative female! It is not appropriate and does not make me respect the person wearing it! I shop at Brooks Bros. for my suits. I’d rather look professional in the office than like I just walked out of the club. I save the “other” attire for my own time, when I don’t have people looking to me to be professional. Women using their sexuality so blatantly earns them no respect. Unfortunately, women are doing so in increasing numbers. I’m currently a law student and it seems as if the new students have decided there is no dress code and the trendier the better. I worked at 2 banks previously with very conservative dress codes and know the proper way to dress…where did this get lost? Our law school had a forum on proper dress last year that bored me but it was probably new to others…this year they failed to have one and I think it was more needed than ever! I’ve seen more cheek cleavage from short dresses in the halls than I saw on a Saturday night in undergrad…
Furthermore, believing that such dress is inappropriate does not make the men chauvinistic and calling names does not reflect well on you, nor does it strengthen your case. Just as many articles have approached the topic poorly, so do you.

Standards

Sometimes there should be a critical analysis that escapes the usual gender discussions, especially with work attire. There is a degree of professional decorum expected in the courtroom. Unfortunately, to even address the topic one has to acknowledge that there are substantial cultural differences between the way men and women dress themselves and inherently advantages and disadvantages to the manner of dress. It goes without saying that people CAN be distracting when their manner of dress differs from accepted professional standards of the day. I see nothing wrong with society asking people to adhere to these standards in the courts. Given the seriousness of the work, something as silly as risqué dress could impact the outcome of a case. And courtroom cases shouldn't be determined by fashion sense.

Nice. I'm glad you posted

Nice. I'm glad you posted this.

Notice how many of the people questioning this are law students who've never even been in court (and can't seem to figure out how to post only one comment)? Like I said, at least here in Portland, this is bulllllshit. The fashion police should definitely be out, but not for dressing too hip or risque.

And I'm sorry, but anybody your grandfather's age who says, "blouses so short there's no way the judges wouldn't look," IS BEING TOTALLY CREEPY. You women may be more forgiving, but trust me: maybe you have to look, but you don't have to tell the woman in front of you that you're looking. That's the creep line. Just crossed it. Bam!

And why the hell can't I show some skin? It's hot out. I'd like to wear a slim little linen suit with one button too many undone and no tie, but the sexist Uniform Trial Court Rules aren't letting me flash my assets to the jury.

Sure, you can want to wear

Sure, you can want to wear one button too many undone, but do so knowing that it is just not professional. It isnt sexist, if a man had one too many buttons undone he'd look equally bad, but men tend to pull this less.

You can be hip, you can be comfortable, and you can look sexy AND dress appropriately. They arent mutually exclusive.

As per the creep factor: I find your comment a little ageist and ridiculous, because while it is rude and inappropiate to tell the woman in front of you that you're looking, that it's not what was going on in the article.

Does it mean that her sexy

Does it mean that her sexy look may influence someone's decision? I'm not sure I'd like to see someone in ceremonial robes like the old days... Nevertheless, I remember the time when pants suits were considered inappropriate for women in federal court, but I think mini skirts isn't a good idea too. Court isn't a men's paradise yet!