Dress for Success When You go to Court!

well dressed

It used to be that you dress for court like you’re going to church. But folks nowadays wear shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops to church, all of those things are not appropriate for court. Instead, dress like you’re going to old school court! Going to court does take time and money. You hire the best attorney then spend hours building a strong case. However, when your case finally goes to court, you are your best advocate and there are several things you can do to present yourself in your best light.

Your greatest asset is your appearance. First impressions are crucial when you may only have a few minutes with the judge. Your clothes will say a great deal about you. They may not be what you normally wear and you may find them drab and uncomfortable, but everything you do at court should be about obtaining the desired outcome. Your clothes should tell the judge that you respect him or her and their courtroom and you care about this case. Here are some good guidelines.

For men, business to business casual is a good rule of thumb. A nice suit is your best bet, but if you don't have one, dress pants, a dress shirt with a collar, and dress shoes will also work. Make sure they fit properly and avoid loud colors or obnoxious sayings or logos. Get a haircut and shave the morning of your court date. If you have any tattoos, try to cover as many up as possible. Again, it may not be your style to hide your tattoos, but today is about your case, not your style.

Women should focus on business attire as well. Hemlines for dresses and skirts should be between just below or just above the knee. Necklines should not be too low. If you choose to wear pants, be sure they fit properly and aren't too tight or too short. Heels shouldn't be too tall and should be restricted to muted colors. Keep your jewelry to a minimum, especially avoiding anything such as bracelets that will make noise when court is in session. Don't go overboard with your hair, make-up, and perfume. Again, it may not be your style, but today is about your case, not your style.

Once you've chosen your attire, you must prepare yourself. There are several key points you should take care of well in advance.

What to expect – Ask your attorney any questions you may have about the procedure. How should you behave once the trial begins? Will you be called on to speak? If so, how should you address the judge? Your attorney will go over these things with you. Doing this will help you feel more confident and things will go much more smoothly.

  • Map out your route – Anyone who has lived in Texas for even a short time knows there's always road work going on somewhere. Make sure it's not along your preferred route to the courthouse. If your case is early on the docket, give yourself plenty of time to deal with morning traffic.
  • Parking – Parking around any courthouse can be horrible because you're usually competing with surrounding businesses for spots. You may have to part several blocks away. Be prepared for anything from parking meters to private parking to covered parking, if you're lucky enough to get either of those last two.
    • Arriving early at the courthouse may result in waiting, but the judge will see someone who is on time for court, not someone who is wasting the Court’s time being late.

Consider yourself “in court” from the moment you enter the courthouse. Turn off your phone immediately so you won't forget and receive a call or text during the court hearing. Some judges deal very harshly with this. Also, always assume there's someone around who will overhear what you say and share it with the judge. For example, if a bailiff hears you tell a friend watching the trial that you just got a raise while you're trying to get spousal support, he may pass the information along to the judge. It's best to keep quiet until you get back into your car at the end of the day.

Although the outcome of the case is ultimately in someone else's hands, you are not completely helpless. Dress respectfully, be on time, and be on your best behavior. Showing personal responsibility will work in your favor when the judge awards the case.

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