I try to avoid wearing a business suit for work - I am more comfortable in sports jacket and trousers, and I think clients and potential clients are more comfortable not dealing with "a suit"
Last week, however, I had to wear a suit on three of the five weeekdays - once for a funeral, once for a meeting at another solicitor's office and once to attend an auction on behalf of a client.
On each occasion, there was no doubt that a suit was appropriate, but it set me to wondering why: where is the distinction between the occasions when it is appropriate to dress down and when it is not? I don't think it is a case of wearing a suit on outside appointments and dressing down when on home territory - though that is a part of the reasoning, I think
The funeral, I think, is obvious - it is a mark of respect and, to an extent, evidence of solemnity
The other occasions are similar - demonstrating, to the client as much as to anyone, that I was treating his business with respect and seriously. As I was representing the client on each occasion, respect and seriousness were both appropriate
This is not to say that, when I am in my own office, dressing down is an indication of a lack of respect or seriousness, but I suppose it is true that, on my own territory, I can set the rules more (I would not dream of trying to do so on "foreign" territory), and I choose to have a deliberately less formal or stuffy attitude - I think it helps remove some of the barriers between solicitor and client and enables the client to accept that we are on the same team.
Otherwise, I feel there is a real danger of a client treating his or her own solicitor as part of the problem - another "suit" - rather than as a friendly expert who is on their side
"Approachability" is an important quality for most professionals, and one I try to display