Sunday, April 5, 2020

In the January 2017 issue of Plaintiff, attorney Debra F. Bogaards advised on how a plaintiff should dress for a deposition and a trial.

At a deposition and trial, a plaintiff’s appearance matters.  What the plaintiff wears is more telling about the plaintiff than what the plaintiff says.  When advising on dress, pay attention to colors, style, and comfort.

Colors have a meaning and tell a story about the wearer.  For example, black means formal, impersonal, and insecure.  In another example, blue stands for calm, peace.  Gold conveys boldness.

The mediator, arbitrator, and jury will make assumptions about a plaintiff’s credibility, honesty, and likeability by how they present themselves.  A person who wears something comfortable will have a better presence and confidence than someone who does not wear clothes that fit.  In a witness summary, the defense attorney will communicate to the carrier their initial impressions of the plaintiff, including physical looks, and whether the person can draw sympathy.

Success at a trial depends on a plaintiff’s testimony.  The person needs to communicate truth through body language.  At a deposition, what a person wears will help the person plant the feet on the floor, and put the hands on the table to show the person is not hiding anything.  The less a plaintiff is self-conscious about the clothes on the person, the more the person can focus on eye contact, facial reactions, speech speed. 

The mediator, opposing attorney, and defendant will be assessing a plaintiff’s facial reactions and pace at direct and cross examination.  A plaintiff should dress conservatively so no one will be distracted, and not listen to the testimony.  Wearing jewelry, tight clothing, displaying a tattoo, carrying designer handbags, or dying hair in unnatural colors, may lead people to question a plaintiff’s personality and behavior. 

The look needs to be neutral and neat.  The goal is to get the other party, jury, and others involved in the litigation process to think the plaintiff is normal, and want to socialize with the person.  If the plaintiff is an attractive female, downplay sexuality with clothing and natural makeup that makes a person approachable. 

Usually a plaintiff gets less than five minutes before an impression is formed by a mediator, opposing attorney, or jury.  A plaintiff does not want to be known for a beard, frizzy hair, or short skirt.  A plaintiff wants to be remembered for the testimony.


Read the article here.