Hi! For those out there who are interested in what I do, I am a journalist. No, no, no I literally am a journalist. Blogging is my hobby but from eight to five Monday to Friday I work for a newspaper. I wish I could show you all the reports I write -they would honestly crack you up- but I cannot scan every page. However, my newspaper will launch a website at the end of the week so I will post it!
For those of you playing at home, I live in an area where the Internet is limited, people are old and people are of low socio-economic status. This means a few things, one: people still buy the paper to read the news, so I am able to keep my job. Two: Low socio economics usually means a lot of crap goes down which makes my job as a court reporter awesome.
At least two times a week you will see me sitting in court listening to criminals, bogans, innocent people plead their case while I am trying to write in shorthand. On a day to day basis you would not believe what I see. People on rape, murder, drugs, sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, drink driving, speeding, alcohol in a prohibited place etc.
Since working in the courts I have seen less then five, yes you heard me, less then five people dressed appropriately. The saying goes that you do not get a second chance to make a first impression, so how you dress on a day-to-day basis is important but it is even more important if you are stepping into a courtroom.
No matter what your reason is for appearing in court – whether you have just started a career as a domestic violence lawyer, on jury duty, or you’re in court to contest a parking fine – you want to give off a good impression. It is nice to think that people are not guided by something as trivial as clothing, but if you are putting your future on the line you want to give yourself as good a chance as possible.
What to avoid
Most judges are middle-class and middle-aged, and will have been practising law for many years. An early warning sign for many is a defendant who has not put in any effort to their appearance. Likewise, if you’re in front of a jury, you want to look respectable.
Any signs that you look like you just rolled out of bed, or you are off to the pub as soon as your case is up will not go down well. Avoid wearing singlets, thongs and boardies and make sure to leave your ripped or distressed jeans at home.
Anything that shows too much flesh should also be avoided – that includes arms, legs, stomachs and cleavages. If you have large tattoos, it is a good idea to cover them up. Do not wear something you would don for a night out and, similarly, do not wear clothes that you would only put on if you were going out in the garden or about to repaint your living room.
Make sure you also look and smell clean. Shower before you leave your home, and as you may be nervous, taking a small travel-size spray of deodorant is a good idea, so you can quickly freshen up during bathroom breaks. This is a massive point, I have seen my favourite court registrar in the world –Ben- clear an entire courtroom of people because they smell. He literally told them to wait outside. Champion!
What to wear
For men, a collared shirt with smart trousers and shoes is ideal. Women have more options. Trousers, skirts and dresses are all appropriate, so long as they are not too revealing – make sure you cover at least down to your knees. Shoes should be closed-toe, without extravagant heels, and it’s best to keep jewellery to a minimum.
If in doubt, remember that a court appearance is not intended to be a fashion display, and treat it like a bit of a job interview. Aim to look tidy, well-groomed, and more on the conservative side of the spectrum. **