Law Firm Dress Code Becomes Casual

When you hear the name Goldman Sachs most people picture a Wall Street banker impeccably dressed in a dark suit. However, the American-based multinational investment bank put out an internal memo early last month addressing their new “firm-wide flexible dress code” changing that picture for good (click here for link). With everything casual from Iron Maiden T-shirts to rainbow suspenders allowed, it seems the only things off limits are shorts of any kind, face tattoos, and bare feet/flip flops. The email from Goldman Sachs leadership reads, “given our firm’s philosophy and the changing nature of workplaces generally in favor of a more casual environment, we believe this is the right time to move to a firmwide flexible dress code.”


This changing nature of the workplace is becoming very apparent within the legal community, as well. Just last month Dechert, an international law firm based in Philadelphia employing more than 900 lawyers, announced to its attorneys and staff members they could wear jeans to the office any day of the week. (Although the office dress code has been relaxed, Dechert expects its lawyers to wear business attire for “court appearances, arbitrations, depositions, and other specific events or meetings that call for a formal appearance” (click here for article)). Alison Bernard, Dechert’s chief talent officer says, “this is just trying to make life easier for people, make people more comfortable, more innovative and letting our talent do their best work.” It seems that law firms are acknowledging what Silicon Valley recognized nearly two decades ago – that a casual culture may enhance productivity, work quality, as well as improve recruitment and retention.


Another significant reason for law firms to consider adopting the casual trend in dress is to maintain their talent pool by appealing to younger generations, whose workplace environments consist of flexible schedules, the option to work remotely, and other incentives. Bernard states “…the culture of a firm is one of the biggest drivers of career choice.”  Increasingly, the dress code is a reflection of the legal culture.



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