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Interview of Sonya Patterson, New Legal Aid Attorney

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

  • Teresa Rendon
  • Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma

At first I had planned to frame this article as advice to young attorneys, but then I looked around the office and saw that the best dressed attorneys are those young, recent graduates, like Legal Aid’s Sonya Patterson of the Family Law Division. Here’s what she has to say about attorney attire:

Image: Sonya PattersonQuestion: What is appropriate attire for female attorneys going into court?
Answer: In my opinion, appropriate attire for all attorneys is business-professional such as a suit, professional dress, skirt and appropriate top. While accessories and individualist styles are great, nothing should be so extreme that it would distract the court from the case at hand.

Question: How did you learn how to dress for court?
Answer: I attended Oklahoma City University School of Law, and I think the professors do a great job of teaching courtroom etiquette which includes how to dress for court. As a 1L, you have professors humble you so that you are respectful in court, but you also have professors who reiterate respect for the tribunal which includes how you speak to the Court and how to dress for Court. This is especially emphasized with the first big writing project which includes oral argument.

Question: Why is it important to dress a certain way in court?
Answer: I think it is to show respect for the tribunal, each other, and our clients. We have a noble profession and attorneys should dress the part. You do not want to distract the court, jury, and witnesses so much that it detracts from your case. That should never be a factor in the outcome of a case.

Question: Would it be easier if attorneys had a uniform or a robe like judges (maybe a different color)?
Answer: I don’t think so. I think the robe distinguishes the judge and plays an important part in the court system. I think attorneys are adults and should know how to dress professionally.

Question: Do you see age differences in the way young and mature female attorneys dress?
Answer: Not really.

Question: What’s the most outlandish garb you’ve seen a female attorney wear in court?
Answer: I saw a female attorney wear a hot pink tennis outfit to a motion docket.  She had on a polo shirt and a matching skirt and tennis shoes.


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Article was published in Briefcase of the Oklahoma County Bar Association


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