Attorney Lisa Eischeid says she agrees with Judge Royce Taylor's dress code. Eischeid says she has worn a business suit throughout the 23 years she has been a lawyer.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (The Tennessean) -- The wardrobe choices of some female attorneys who frequent Rutherford County's courts are causing a bit of a stir.
in the county have groaned to their colleagues and judges that certain
female attorneys are showing up in attire that pricks the sensibilities
of a profession long known for its conservative dress code.
female lawyers, according to many in the local legal community, are
appearing in court in revealing blouses, miniskirts and, in at least one
The sartorial hubbub has made its way to
Circuit Judge Royce Taylor, who said he has received a number of attire
complaints from attorneys in the county. He has written a notice
reminding female lawyers to keep their suggestive garments out of the
Taylor said the matter became a major discussion point at last month's local Bar and Bench Committee.
you have to do is go to church and see what people used to wear - hats,
gloves, long dresses - have long been gone away with," Taylor said.
"But I found that county judges here weren't holding women to the same
standard as men."
In the forthcoming newsletter to all members of the Rutherford County Bar, Taylor plans to offer specifics.
have advised some women attorneys that a jacket with sleeves below the
elbow is appropriate or a professional dress equivalent," the letter
reads. "Your personal appearance in court is a reflection upon the
entire legal profession."
News of the soon-to-be-published letter
spread quickly. Many female attorneys, including Nashville-based Karla
Miller, who handles some Rutherford cases, heard chatter that Taylor's
rules include mandatory pantyhose - an accusation Taylor denies.
By way of explanation, Taylor said: "They're usually behind the podium. I only see their upper bodies."
Miller said she was "slightly offended" by the judge's move but understood his motivation.
bigger picture is: Some ladies are dressing in a manner that should be
bothersome to other lady lawyers who strive to be professional," she
Murfreesboro attorney Michelle Blaylock-Howser responded to
the dustup with a shrug. If men are held to a standard, she said, women
can be, too.
Blaylock-Howser often sees female attorneys sporting
sleeveless shirts, which she said should be out of bounds in the
courtroom. Once, a Nashville attorney came to court wearing a dressy
blouse and sweatpants, she said.
"How we got off those standards is beyond me," Blaylock-Howser said.
to image and brand consultant Mila Grigg, who works with more than 100
attorneys in Middle Tennessee, personal fashion choices clashing with
professional decorum are especially pronounced with the millennial
generation who, as she says, "have a different standard for what
professional looks like."
"I've never met an attorney who has
broke the rules on purpose," Grigg said. "They'll say, 'Oh, I can't wear
that? What should I be wearing?' "
Singling out women, though, is unfair, Grigg said, since men violate professional fashion etiquette just are often as women.
suits for men and women is one way to express your personal brand," she
said. "And you can always showcase your personality through color."
Lisa Eischeid said Judge Taylor is an equal opportunity wardrobe
conservative. She recalls one instance where he found a male attorney in
contempt of court for appearing without a blazer. Taylor confirmed the
story, adding that he also made the attorney donate to charity.
needs to tell women that sundresses are not proper in the courtroom,"
said Eischeid, who has worn a business suit throughout the 23 years she
has been a lawyer. "But it can be a delicate issue."
is in no rush to abandon its old-fashioned protocols, attorney Miller
said, though perhaps it is a blessing in disguise.
thing - we're girls, we like making fashion statements," Miller said.
"It's about individualism. Maybe the courtroom is not a place to show
your individualism via fashion."