As an attorney, you must present your case to best effect in the courtroom. One key element in this process is the appearance and demeanor of your clients and witnesses in that setting. By providing advice on how to behave and on general appearance, you can often produce a more favorable impression on judges and jurors before you say a single word. Here are seven tips to help you prepare your clients for the courtroom.
Dress for success
Helping your clients to choose the right clothing options can be a tricky proposition. In general, clothing should be conservative and chosen to meet business professional standards. For men, a suit and tie or a sports jacket and slacks are generally acceptable. Women can wear dresses, skirts, or other outfits appropriate for the working environment. In all cases, clothes should be neat, clean, and free of holes or stains to make the best impression.
Jewelry should be kept to a bare minimum in the courtroom setting. This can prevent distractions both for your client and for jurors. Dangling metallic earrings or multiple chains can make noise that can interfere with court reporting duties and can reduce the impact of the evidence you present.
Choose cosmetics carefully
Bright red lipstick can make a real impression on jurors; unfortunately, it may not be to your client’s benefit. Advising against heavy eye makeup and thick foundation can assist in creating the right tone in the courtroom and can ensure a professional appearance for your clients and witnesses.
Mind your manners
Providing your clients with a general overview of what to expect during court proceedings can help them feel more comfortable in this setting. For example, alerting them to rise when the bailiff or court officer requests it can reduce stress and worry during the trial. Advising your clients and witnesses to speak clearly and politely can also make a positive impression on those involved in the proceedings.
Avoid “making a statement”
Clothing that advertises a particular brand, espouses a political viewpoint, promotes a sports team, or delivers a message should be avoided in the courtroom setting. These items can produce unintended negative effects among jurors who have different preferences and can potentially cause difficulties for you and your client over the course of the case. This is especially true for items that reflect any elements of anti-social behavior or that might be misinterpreted as emblematic of gang culture. Instead, opt for less controversial clothing and save the personal statements for outside the courtroom.
Choose your shoes
When possible, your clients and witnesses should wear shoes appropriate to the courtroom environment. Dress shoes should be well polished and in good repair. Heels should not be excessively high or overly ornate. If athletic shoes are worn, they should be clean and free from elaborate designs. In general, the footwear chosen by your clients and witnesses should be simple and unobtrusive to avoid unwanted distractions during the trial proceedings.
Plan video depositions
The same rules should apply for witnesses who cannot be present for court proceedings and who provide video-recorded depositions for playback during the trial. While not all expert witnesses and individuals deposed to give testimony may have the advance warning necessary to acquire appropriate clothing, care should be taken to ensure that they present themselves in a manner appropriate to the court environment. If witnesses must be deposed remotely, be sure to allow time to discuss your expectations prior to the official recorded testimony.
By planning ahead and preparing your clients and witnesses for their day in court, you can ensure that they make the best possible impression on jurors and the judge. This can help your cases go more smoothly and can ensure the best possible results for your valued clients.