Charlotte School of Law Dress Code Opinion Article
By: Dawson Plimpton, Concerned3L
WARNING: This letter is designed to get more students to dress appropriately while in
law school. Unfortunately, as most students have not taken it upon themselves to do so, I am
suggesting CSL institute a mandatory dress code as soon as possible. If concerned, interested,
curious, please keep reading. If not, you have just been warned.
To those still reading (TTSR): The next time you are in class or at CSL, ask yourself,
“Am I pleased with what I see as a member of the legal community?”
What Were They Thinking?
In July and again in August of this year, Student Services emailed to the student body:
“Although there is not a dress code per se, please remember that this is a professional building
and will be frequented by attorneys, judges, and corporate leaders, etc…. Our tenancy lease does
say that gym clothes, pajamas, and clothing with vulgar words or pictures, are never
appropriate.” From the attire worn on campus, some at CSL never got the memo nor does the
memo ask enough of professional students.
We should be presenting ourselves as soon-to-be members of the legal profession, on a
daily basis. Too often I see students drastically altering their attire to look presentable on
“special” days. Why, you ask? It is because what they normally wear to CSL is not appropriate
attire for a law student. A complete list would not only be lengthy, but unnecessary as the
pictures are already flashing through your mindor possibly in front of you, next to you, behind
you, or even on you. For the men:t-shirts, frayed shorts and pants, torn or baggy jeans, and ball
caps. For the women:workout attire, mini skirts, low-cut tops, and last but not leastjeggings
(tight leggingsworn as pants and sometimes even see-through, yes really).
TTSR: Let your knowledge of the law do the talking, not your clothes.
Why a Dress Codeis Important
If CSL wants to establish a more professional image and begin to distinguish itself from
other law schools, then implementing a dress code should be a top priority. It must create a dress
code that follows the professionalism mantra of CSL. Professionalism, as CSL is allegedly, and
should continue to focus on, is unfortunately not within the current, non-existent, dress code.
This is why it is vital that the dress code be addressed immediately.
Moreover, a dress code will improve the image of CSL, show respect to the legal
profession, and help teach students a littleabout professionalism. The way a student dresses
sends an immediate message to those that come in contact with them. How a student dresses
also reflects how confident they appear and how well they take care of themselves. It can lead
others to take you more seriously and show you more respect. Likewise, a lack of professional
attire can have the reverse effect because judges and employers do “judge a book by its cover.”
Please understand, those outside of CSL notice the inadequacies in our attire. A local
judge has stated to me, “Officers of the court should set the standard and students at CSL, as
future officers of the court, need to learn how to set that standard!”Students not adhering to a
professional appearance are negatively impacting more than themselves; they are hurting fellow
students and upsetting the legal community. Judges form first impressions, make personal
judgments, and sometimes determine the credibility of a person, or school, simply by the way
TTSR:Please do not let people judge your attire, let them judge your argument.
Smartor Business Casual Moving Forward
Briefly, I am recommending two options for the dress code.The first option is Smart
Casual, whichis looking professional with a bit of sophistication and style, while still allowing
individuality.Sneakers and ball caps are not appropriate. Jeans would be appropriate if worn
correctly and free of holes, tears, or other modifications. The second option is Business Casual,
whichis looking professional with a more structured wardrobe. Jeans, sneakers, and ball caps are
TTSR:I ask for your help to encourage others to improve upon their attire. Please pass
this message along to those not still reading:Even before a dress code is implemented, I urge you
to take a few minutes, or even seconds, before putting on your next outfit for class and ask
yourself, “Is this appropriate attire?” Stop and think about it. When you can say, “Yes”,get
dressed and attendyour professional law school.