I Want to be the Bearded George Clooney of BigLaw


QI’m a third-year student at a T1 law school and near the top of my class. I have done fairly well in my interviews, and I am confident that I will be hired into a New York BigLaw firm, which has been a goal of mine since the tail end of high school.

Problem: I have the George Clooney bearded look (well-trimmed and proper) going on, but from what I have heard, this is not encouraged in the corporate world. Since it is a pretty awkward question to ask a future employer, I am just wondering what you think of a beard in the workplace?

AI assume you’re asking if it’s okay to rock a well-trimmed, Clooney-esque beard at a swanky NY law firm. And you’re also asking me to assume that you resemble Hollywood’s benchmark for handsome with a beard. Fine. I’ll take the leap.

If you’re still interviewing and have yet to be extended a job offer, what’s the point in making it a variable? Don’t leave it to risk. Shave and go into interviews clean cut. End of story.

If you already have a job offer, the answer is yes. It’s fine. I’m not sure I’d show up day one with it, but if you do, no big deal. If you keep it short and clean, you’ll be fine.  Major law firms are far more concerned about your brains and billables than looks and facial hair. But in today’s world, even in the rarified world of BigLaw, a closely cropped beard is not terribly controversial. So wear it, and wear it proud.

The truth is, I’m far more intrigued with your statement that working in BigLaw was a goal of yours since the tail end of high school. At that stage of my life, my singular goal was to get drunk and get laid. I’d never even heard of BigLaw. But somehow I ended up there anyway. Sadly.

Got a question for Ex-Bitter?  Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

15 Comments

  1. Alma Federer

    March 15, 2010 at 4:10 am

    Beards are gross.  Not only do they look dirty, they often house the food you ate last night.  They also are gruff and nearly all women do not like them unless they like the person first without the beard.  I recommend you shave it off NOW.  If you haven’t gotten job offers that is why.  When I was in law school, my Constitutional Law professor had a beard, and it was disgusting.  He liked to eat herring, and his breath stank like fish to begin with, but I had to sit there while I could tell what he had eaten.  Also, men with beards usually wear them to compensate for sexual shortcomings, just in case you are interested.

  2. Guano Dubango

    March 15, 2010 at 4:23 am

    Alma, I have never had a beard, and do not even like fish.  I have just shaven my head so I look just like Seal.  Now will you date me?  I live in New York City, so I can meet you for lunch.

  3. Craig

    March 15, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Definitely shave off the beard.  No question.  No further analysis needed.

  4. unimportant

    March 15, 2010 at 8:15 am

    speaking of law professors with beards… at my law school, a very high percentage of the older faculty members rocked the balding w/ a gray beard look. is that uncommon? i came to associate old men w/ beards w/ law profs

  5. Jimmy Pop

    March 15, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Ex-Bitter: If you are a good multi-tasker you can get into BigLaw and get laid/drunk.

  6. WordCorrector2010

    March 15, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Title has a typo. First word should be I instead of I’m

  7. Guy who posted the original question to Ex-Bitter

    March 15, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Alma, not all men with beards smell. We DO clean ourselves. Ex-Bitter or Bitter Vault or whoever answered my question, I do not look like George Clooney I actually have blonde hair but my beard is trimmed in a similar way to George’s, if not slightly shorter. It does not look sloppy and I look much better with it. Anyways, if fellow commenters think the beard is inappropriate, what do you guys think of a goatee? Or does everyone strongly suggest that I shave off my facial pride-and-joy.

  8. Hannah Palindrome

    March 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    I’m not into beards.

  9. Bill

    March 15, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Listen to Hannah.  She’s cool, and arguably good looking.  If she’s not into beards, that should be good enough.  No one wants to look at a guy that is supposed to be a lawyer, but isn’t able to keep a clean face.  It might be another thing if this were the 1700’s, but face it, beards are for aliens, not here in the USA.  As far as I can tell, some women only like men with beards because they tickle them, but for the most part these beards are grungy and skraggley.  Lose the beard, and that goes for women too.  Make sure you are clean shaven all over.

  10. Chick Litigator

    March 15, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Shave it while you’re going through the interview process. If you genuinely look good with it, then let it grow after you’ve settled into a job. I’ve known a handful of men that can wear a neat, trimmed beard and still look very professional. If you’re one of those men, then go for it. The trick (as you seem to already have picked up on) is to keep up with it – for to look purposeful and not like you just forgot to shave for a few days. And, yes, there are women out there who find beards attractive.

  11. Bitter Overseas

    March 15, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Love my beard. Never held me back. Wife likes it too (or so she claims all these years…)
    Probably won’t interest anyone here, but there are spiritual aspects to a man’s beard, ‘kabbalistically’ speaking (the real kabbala, not the drivel Madonna peddles…)

  12. Anonymous

    March 16, 2010 at 3:43 am

    Kabbalistic?  WTF?  We are lawyers, not friggin’ Rabbis.  If you want to be a Rabbi, or a High Priest, fine, grow an ugly beard, but no one wants to see a bunch of grunge-buckets with sloppy beards running around a white shoe law firm.  Also, most guys don’t look like George Clooney, with or without a beard, so dont go deluding yourself into thinking that if you grow a beard, you’ll somehow turn into another George Clooney.  You won’t.  You will just be another dorky douche with a dirty beard.  Heaven knows there are enough of these dorks around already.

  13. Bitter Overseas

    March 16, 2010 at 4:23 am

    Which is why prefaced the point with ‘probably won’t interest anyone here’. Shave your whole body for all I care. And, no joke, the sharpest lawyers I ever met were rabbis too.

  14. anonymous MediumLaw10

    March 16, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    My fiance sometimes rocks the facial hair, sometimes not. He’s smokin’ hot either way, and I can speak from experience, he’s not compensating for any sexual shortcomings.  Nor has he ever, since I’ve known him, sported bits of last night’s herring.

  15. Been there

    March 16, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Chicks who like manly men (read: roughed up in bed) like beards.  Chicks who are afraid of masculinity don’t.  It’s that simple.

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