I Wonder How Important My Hairstyle Is in a Law Firm


QOne of the male partners at my law firm always comments on my hair. He likes it some days, and other days he says, “I like it better when you wear it down.”

Does a woman’s hair have that big of an impact on her career at a law firm? I generally try to keep it pulled back and professional looking, but I get more attention from partners (and people in general) when I wear it down and make it look feminine by actually taking the time to style it.

Should I be making a bigger point of doing my hair nice and cute more often? Would I be taken more or less seriously as a lawyer?  Or would putting obvious effort into something as random as my hair just make other women from the firm hate me?

AYou’re 100% right. There’s nothing more important than a woman’s hair. Especially in a law firm.

Are you serious?!

Okay, here’s the deal, sister. Wear your goddamn hair any way you want. Wear it up, wear it down, wear it sideways. Doesn’t matter.  Whatever makes you feel most comfortable. Got it?

The fact that one of the male partners always comments on your hair is (1) sort of creepy, and (2) irrelevant to the ultimate decision of who makes partner. If anything, him preferring it down is more of a reason to keep it pulled back.

Repeat after me: It’s the twenty-first century, and I can wear my hair any way I damn well please. Seriously, say that out loud.  Three times. Now.

How you style your hair is up to you and no one else. In all my years of professional experience, I’ve never once consciously judged a woman based on her hair (within reason). People respond to confidence, not hairstyles. If you feel awesome about a ponytail, rock it. If you feel better about a more stylish “do,” go with that.

But, as you suggest, putting too much obvious effort into your hair isn’t a great idea. Not because other women in the firm might hate you, but because it’s just sort of lame to put that much effort into your hair, regardless of your profession.

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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.

11 Comments

  1. Schadenfreude

    January 26, 2010 at 7:20 am

    No offense Ex-Bitter, but I think you missed the point. Actually, you made the point, you just failed to elaborate on it. Yes it’s 2010, yes you can wear your hair any way you damned well please. But CONFIDENCE is the key. I would infer from her wording that when she takes the time to style her hair in a way she feels is cute, even though it is a pain in the ass to do so, she feels like she is better looking which is a confidence booster. Confidence which will come into play when looking at her as a candidate for partner. I think the question here is “is it worth taking the extra time needed to primp?” and the answer is yes, if it truly affects your confidence level in the office.

  2. Sillylawyer

    January 26, 2010 at 8:02 am

    I totally disagree.  If you’re hot, then you should make sure that your hair looks amazing because more partners will wanna bang you, and that increases your chances of making partner and/or having sex with a partner. 
    On the other hand, if you’re fat and heinous, then you shouldn’t care about your hair because no one is gonna look at your fat ass anyway.

  3. BL1Y

    January 26, 2010 at 8:25 am

    The particular style isn’t nearly as important as looking groomed and professional.  Wear it whatever way you want, just don’t pick something that will make the partners want to keep you hidden from clients.  As much as people like to claim appearance doesn’t matter, it does, and it should.  Your appearance, especially something like hair, is largely a choice.  Your hair style says how much time you put into it (too little and you look unorganized; too much and you look wasteful), and something tasteful and conservative says you’re reliable.  A more exotic/edgy/retarded haircut says you probably lack discretion and good decision making skills.  Do you really want to give important assignments to someone who can’t manage their time, doesn’t understand what’s important and what’s not, and exercises poor judgment?  Hair isn’t the end-all be-all of how we judge people, but it definitely matters.  PS: Make sure you keep your hair healthy, or you’ll start to look burned out.

  4. Craig

    January 26, 2010 at 9:04 am

    How have you made it this far in life without figuring out something as basic as how to style your hair properly?  Is this really an issue that needs to be resolved by Bitter Lawyer?

  5. Anon

    January 26, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Once again, Craig nails it.

  6. Guano Dubango

    January 26, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    If you are trying to look professional at the office, keep your hair up.  If you are trying to impress the male lions at the firm and look very sexy, keep the hair down, but always well styled.  If you’ve already nabbed a male lion and are with the man at home, keep the hair up.  When making love, men all like to see exactly what is going on, and women do not want to mess up their hair too much.  You can always put the hair down when you leave to go home afterwards.

  7. Guano Dubango

    January 26, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    I am presuming, of course, that you are referring to the hair on your head.  We deal differently in my country with styling of hair in other places.

  8. k

    January 26, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    With all due respect, I believe “wear it however you want” is the wrong answer.  Your overall appearance, hair included, sends a message.  It is very important to figure out what message you want to send and style appropriately.

  9. Violet

    January 29, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    When I was a public defender, we used to decide whether we should advise our clients to plea or go to trial based on how the domestic violence prosecutor wore her hair that day.  Hair down – she has no contact with the alleged victim no matter how much she bluffed.  Hair up – dude, you better take the deal! 
    I wish that I was making this up.

  10. Delta Sierra

    January 31, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    He is being extremely creepy, watch out.

  11. prosecutor with long hair

    April 6, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Violet, you made me LOL here at my desk.  Seriously, speaking on behalf of the State, my decision to wear my hair up or down is completely disconnected from my victims or my cases.  It is mostly a function of the weather. (I have curly hair, rain = up).  In case you were wondering.  (And FYI, I go for a hot-librarian look at work, sometimes hair down to be dramatic for trials.  But mostly hair down is only for civilain life- like I have a mild mannered, fun hair having alter-ego.) Sounds like you client would have been pleading!

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