Can Lawyers Have Beards? (Yes, but…)

  • Time to read: 4 min.

Yes, lawyers can have beards.

However, there are many reasons why lawyers choose not to wear them.

In the article that follows, we’ll explain.

Can Lawyers Have Beards? (Explained)

While there are definitely rules in court governing what lawyers are supposed to wear, there is generally little to any guidance about facial hair, hairstyles (on the head), tattoos, or even piercings.

Men are expected to wear a jacket and tie in court, and women are to wear something “similar” without any specifics.

Both male and female lawyers assume this means a suit, and not business casual.

As for beards, we’ve never seen a rule in any court (or bar association) that regulated facial hair in any way, like you’d see with the military.

Beards are allowed, and any style seems to be allowed.

That being said, lawyers are expected to appear “lawyerly” in court, and if the facial hair is not quite “lawyerly,” the lawyer may attract the negative attention of the sitting judges.

As a practicing lawyer, I have personally observed situations where judges treated lawyers who were not dressed professionally (in clothes or hair) in a negative way.

This can mean refusing to hear the lawyer’s case, motion, or reason for being in court (with client in tow).

This can also mean putting that lawyer’s case on the bottom of the docket pile, meaning the lawyer (and his client) end up sitting on the benches for hours.

In the end, if you are an attorney with a beard, you should be fine so long as the beard looks professional.

This means clean, kempt/trimmed, and in control.

If you attend court or meet with clients with a wild beard, you won’t be able to stop people from drawing conclusions about you or your practice that are negative and undeserved.

The same is true for any other aspect of your appearance (hair, clothing, briefcase or bag).

Reasons Why Lawyers Choose Not To Have Beards

As a young lawyer, many job candidates forgo beards (or all facial hair) in an effort to look as serious and professional as possible.

They’ll get rid of mustaches, chin stubble, and cheek chops to avoid losing out on an opportunity for such a tiny detail.

Once their job is secure, they’ll feel more free to allow their facial hair to return.

As a practicing lawyer, many lawyers forgo beards due to the perception that clients or even jurors prefer attorneys that do not have facial hair.

While this long standing belief may or may not have any basis in fact, it is a thing that attorneys handling high stakes litigation consider.

Maybe jurors dislike the beard because it covers up some of the lawyer’s face, allowing the lawyer to maybe hide his facial expressions (making him less trustworthy)?

Some lawyers choose to eschew beards because the extra hair can impair their ability to communicate with hearing impaired individuals who rely upon the lips and face to understand what is being said.

In the end, just know that there are many, many successful attorneys and judges who wear beards at work.

Reasons To Wear The Beard Now

We take the position that times are changing, and the way clients feel about long hair, tattoos, piercings, and beards is changing.

Gone are the days when clients expected their lawyers to be male, grey haired, and clean shaven.

Lawyers now come in every shape, size, ability, and appearance.

While that first job out of law school is really important (and so is that big stakes trial), being your authentic self is also extremely important.

If you shave your beard to try and conform to someone else’s expectations at the office, you might struggle later to be happy there.

If your potential employer would have passed you over due to your beard, maybe that’s not the office you want to contribute several years of your youth.

People can tell when we are trying to play a role that we aren’t comfortable with.

In my experience, clients (and jurors) can see right through any attempt to be anything other than our authentic selves.

If you want that big law job, you might be better off just going in as yourself, so the partners can see you at your very best.

Show them that you can look professional, and that you are dead serious about the job, and your neatly trimmed beard won’t matter at all.

That extra boost of confidence might be just what you need to put you over the top.

Wrap Up

Lawyer can have beards, so long as their overall appearance is sharp and professional.

Thinking about going to law school or becoming an attorney? Check out our law school and career guides in our legal library.

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