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Costuming for the Courtroom

Katherine James of ACT of Communication continues publish excellent articles to educate attorneys on the live communication skills. One of my favorites is her article titled “Costuming for the Courtroom.” In this colorful piece she addresses the issues of WHAT NOT TO WEAR to the courtroom. And working with Katherine and Alan, I have seen firsthand the makeovers they have done to better the attorney and the witness’ presence in the courtroom. Katherine teaches attorneys how to costume just as a costume designer, to help better tell the courtroom who a person is and what a person’s character is.

I know this seems so elementary but when you read her stories and hear of her experiences, you can see why this is so essential. Here is a short clip from her article:

“Oh my God, she looks terrible! Can you help me make her not look like a hooker?” If I had a dollar for every time an attorney said that to me. Or how about, “He says all he owns are T-shirts and cut offs – and he thinks that’s what he should wear to court.

Help!” Then, of course, there is the opposite but equally frightening comment, “I told him to wear a blue suit, white shirt and red tie – after all, I’ve worn the same blue suit to court for the last 25 years and I always have all my clients dress just like I do.”

How do these comments come to me? I have been a trial consultant for the past 30 years specializing in live communication skills for attorneys and their witnesses. But more significantly, I am the first trial consultant to apply theatre to the law. And as such, I am asked to make “courtroom costuming”
comments on a daily basis.

Even though I am not an attorney, I took away tips on color, style, fit, fabric and “persuasive” costuming. She also tackles the issues of judgments, misconceptions and credibility that commonly happen as a result of “poor” costuming. One may not realize the significant effect something so basic has on the jurors, judge etc…

I encourage everyone to read this article, whether you are preparing for a trial, a job interview or meeting the future in-laws she offers some useful pointers.

To read the full article please click here
Plaintiff Magazine Feb 2008


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