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The Oracle

Following suit

updated on 29 July 2014

Dear Oracle

I've managed to get some training contract interviews. What should I wear?

The Oracle replies

Like it or not, when you join the legal profession, you join a world that requires a certain conservatism and level of conformity. When a solicitor or barrister is in court or interacting with business clients, he/she will most likely be wearing a suit. As a result, when you go for interview, you should dress as you would expect to be dressed if you were to get the job.

Emma Young, senior HR manager, graduate recruitment and development manager at Ashurst, says of some of the interviewees she has met: "Some people get the dress code completely wrong, normally by not being smart enough, which creates a poor impression from the moment we meet. City lawyers are business people and their clients expect them to look the part. Part of the job is projecting the image of a trusted advisor; not in a stuffy, Dickensian, bowler hat kind of way, but clients expect to see someone credible. Looking professional does not simply mean investing in a decent suit - although this is certainly the first step. You have to think about your overall presentation. That means arriving clean shaven (where applicable), with clean, neat hair and not being covered in crumbs or looking like you've been up all night. Female candidates often ask whether it matters whether they wear skirt or trouser suits or high or low heels. Either is fine - overall smartness is the key and being comfortable will help you feel confident. If all this fills you with dread, remember that being presentable doesn't necessarily mean being conservative; you can bring in elements of your own individual style, but play it safe if you're in any doubt."