Law Schools

Dress Code for 'Scruffy' Law Profs

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Is the standard of faculty attire so dire at law schools today that a dress code should be imposed? At least one law professor says yes.

In an upcoming law review article, Erik Jensen of Case Western Reserve University calls for a dress code for his academic colleagues, in order to restore the majesty of the law. “Not for students,” he adds. “I give up on them.”

There is a dress code even for crash dummies, Jensen points out, and, like the fictional academic in Philip Roth’s The Professor of Desire, law professors should want to tell their students “however you may choose to attire yourselves–in the getup of garage mechanic, panhandler … or cattle rustler–I still prefer to appear before you to teach wearing a jacket and a tie.”

A Uniform Uniform Code, he suggests, should require professors, when on law school grounds or law school business, “to dress in a way that would not embarrass their mothers, unless their mothers are under age 50 and are therefore likely to be immune to the possibility of embarrassment from scruffy dressing.” Jensen’s draft dress code is a bit bare on specific details, especially for women. However, in addition to the “mother” test he suggests those in doubt should simply look back to what others in their position routinely wore 20 or 30 years ago.

Any bright-line test to be developed by those enhancing his draft UUC will have to consider all the facts and circumstances, of course. “Are pants acceptable? Of course, in the right climate at the right time,” Jensen advises his female colleagues. “Color of suit? Maybe it depends on what you’re doing. Ask your mother.”

The article will be published this year in the Oklahoma City University Law Review, as the TaxProf Blog notes.

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