I have received some interesting responses to the blog post For Dignity and Respect. With permission of the writers, I am posting their thoughts here.
I read your article and wanted to reply with my own personal experience and thoughts.
I was a new lawyer when I was scheduled for an early 9:00 am hearing in Miami. My wife and I were up all night dealing with a fussy two year old but I dutifully left the house at around 6:00 am to ensure I would be on time for the hearing. I arrived early for the hearing and began to put on my tie and jacket before heading upstairs to the ninth floor only to realize that I had forgotten my tie. I didn’t have time to buy one before the hearing so I proceeded upstairs sans tie figuring that as the hearing was only going to be about 5 minutes it would not be the end of the world. I was apparently wrong as the sitting JCC (who thankfully is no longer on the bench) delayed the hearing to spend 10 minutes dressing me down for my failure to appear wearing a tie. Certainly this JCC was a stickler for formality, including the requirement that attorneys stand at the podium when addressing the “court,” however I felt that this was entirely unnecessary. I will say however that I have since kept a tie stashed in my car for just such occasions.
I think we should all realize that we practice in Florida where summer temperatures and humidity making “formal” dress not only uncomfortable but also sweaty. What is the purpose of wearing a jacket in 100 degree temperatures other than impress upon others how uncomfortably we can dress? Similarly, why do we insist on placing a noose around our necks? Showing respect and dressing appropriately does not require any specific set of rules and should take into account the environment in which we live and practice.
At least one study has shown that a tight necktie causes increased intraocular pressure and could contribute to glaucoma. http://bjo.bmj.com/content/87/8/946.full
I would also point you to the Oregon State Bar Bulletin article “Reconsidering the Necktie” by Brian Williams.
And finally a more general op-ed in the Iowa State Daily
Here’s to hoping that one day we can all agree that the tie is an outdated fashion accessory and not some magical talisman which conveys and demands respect. If the only reason that a party feels I respect them is because of some silk around my neck then I have failed in my ability to convey basic human decency and compassion with how I speak and act.
Keep up the good work on the blog.