Paralegals typically dress in a certain way to showcase the professionalism of the legal field. Because of this, they often don’t have a lot of flexibility or choice when it comes to their work wardrobe. Dress codes do depend a lot on the individual firm. Here are the most common ways in which paralegals dress and in what circumstances.
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Law is still a very conservative profession and paralegals are expected to dress as such. Many paralegals dress in business formal attire for a regular workday, especially if they will be appearing in court, meeting with clients or work for a high-profile firm. Business formal clothing includes a suit, pants and ties in neutral colors. Women are allowed to wear nice blouses, pantsuits, slacks and if they wish, skirts. Although there are few differences, business professional may also be acceptable, defined as a small step down from business formal. It is a good idea for paralegals to keep a formal business suit in a closet at the firm in case formal dress is needed for an occasion.
Some law firms are accepting of business casual dress, especially smaller firms or firms that don’t want to come across as intimidating to clients. Business casual in law firms typically includes clothing items such as khakis, dress shirts and slacks per The Balance. Paralegals may be allowed to come to work in business casual on days where they will not be interacting with clients in a formal manner, on “casual Fridays” or simply because the firm has no issue with business casual dress. Some paralegals do not work in law firms but instead work for other organizations, such as private corporations and government agencies, where a wide variety of dress styles could be the norm. Business casual is common for most offices, but some environments might require very formal dress.
Freelance Paralegals Can Dress How They Want
Although almost no law firm permits paralegals to come to work in jeans and a t-shirt, there is one way in which paralegals can dress how they wish. This is to become a freelance paralegal, where an individual works for themselves, often remotely out of a home office. When working remotely from home, paralegals can dress however they wish, including in very casual styles such as yoga pants or fleece sleep pants. Freelance paralegals who meet clients in person will need to dress nicely, usually in business formal or business casual attire. Appearance will also matter during any video conference call.
Other Dress Considerations
Paralegals often have other considerations to make when it comes to their dress code. For example, any tattoos must be completely covered up while at work in almost all firms. Strong smelling perfume or distracting, large or very cheap jewelry should be avoided. High-quality jewelry and watches are usually preferred in law firms. Hairstyles and nails should also appear nice and groomed, with some hairstyles such as long hair on men or wilder styles on women being unacceptable at some firms. All clothes, shoes, and accessories should be clean, wrinkle-free, shined and without holes or fraying.
The legal profession is changing but it still remains steeped in immaculate professionalism. Although new hires should always ask for information on the dress code and observe how others in the firm dress, paralegals typically dress formally.