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Question for current law students: tattoos!

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Tattoos on lawyers seem rare.  

In my experience, the number of legal assistants with butterfly tattoos on their lower backs is absurdly disproportionate to the general population.  

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Just now, utmguy said:

Tattoos on lawyers seem rare.  

In my experience, the number of legal assistants with butterfly tattoos on their lower backs is absurdly disproportionate to the general population.  

Dare one ask the circumstances that have led you to conduct a statistically valid (large sample size) comparison of the lower backs of legal assistants with the general population? :twisted:

Or would you, on the advice of counsel (or your own), decline to answer? 

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1 hour ago, epeeist said:

Dare one ask the circumstances that have led you to conduct a statistically valid (large sample size) comparison of the lower backs of legal assistants with the general population? :twisted:

Or would you, on the advice of counsel (or your own), decline to answer? 

That should probably be a refusal.

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12 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

That post just made me more sure I want a quarter/half sleeve when I graduate. 

I recently got something that goes down about a 3/4 down my arm. Very easy to cover up around conservative clients and on the golf course. I would love a full sleeve, but I don't like the look of it ending above the wrist bone.

As for the rest of this thread: there are a few conservative lawyers at my firm but they don't seem to mind if you cover your tattoos up. Even some of the partners have tattoos but they don't really show them off unless they are just hanging with colleagues.

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I was doing a quick search for something I'd read about copyright and tattoos, but found a more recent and more comprehensive US article arguing that (under US law, including for policy reasons re control over another person's body) a tattoo as applied to a human should not be considered a copy under copyright law, even if there's e.g. a drawing subject to copyright. Also discusses some cases including the Mike Tyson one.

Also has some stats that as of 2012 about 21% of Americans, and 40% of those under 40, had at least one tattoo.

https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/ndlr/vol90/iss4/12/

But law does tend to be a more conservative profession - while tattoos and the legal profession have been discussed a few times, from a quick search I didn't find this 2016 Halifax story:

"...

Burnet said for professionals seeking to challenge these notions, education and training in the workplace is a good place to start. However, she added it's a balancing act for lawyers who represent clients in the courtroom. 

In court, Burnet said she covers her tattoos and sometimes removes her facial piercings because some clients do the same.

"If you're representing a client in court and you know that some of those unspoken assumptions exist, you want to do everything you can to reflect positively on your client," she said."

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/tattooed-pierced-law-school-grad-challenges-dresscode-norms-1.3872514

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I have a visible tattoo on my leg (upper calf), and it was visible during my interviews for SCC clerkships as well as at my big-law firm (yes, I am a woman, and yes, I was wearing a skirt suit), and I was hired for both. I've never had anyone say anything about it. It's not particularly in-your-face and the subject matter is vanilla. I would say that tattoos which fit that description, and which can be covered by clothing fairly easily, aren't a detriment even at more conservative places of employment. Something really large, always visible, or of edgy subject matter (I'm thinking about this story) would result in different considerations. 

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I spliced the posts discussing personal stories about using prescription drugs to Off Topic. 

Let’s try to avoid taking over topics like these with derails into personal anecdotes that have nothing to do with the topic at hand :)

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, QueensGrad said:

I'm coming to this way late, but I figure I'll chime in as I just had this conversation with my assistant about whether or not to have a provision in our employee handbook about covering tattoos (either at all times or at least for client meetings and court).

Her opinion is we shouldn't be policing this stuff, and if we think it will be a problem then we can always just not hire them.

My opinion is that the rules needs to be in place to also deal with if someone successfully conceals a tattoo during an interview or gets one after being hired.

 

Quite frankly, and I think this is true of most small firms (and must be a consideration at larger firms), my resources are few, and my clients are individually important. I'm not in a place where I can just turn work away and it's all fine. Sure, occasionally I will refuse work if I think the client is going to just be a complete and absolute pain and be nothing but trouble (I'd say that, on average, I get one per year that I'm prepared to put in that category), but usually if I turn away work it's because it's not an area I practice. Also, a sizable percentage of my business is from return clients. I'd say about 10% of the money I've brought in over the last 3 years can be traced to about 2 or 3 clients alone because they keep coming back with more work. While these are corporate clients, it's all based on a great relationship with the sole owner of said companies.

Why does that matter? Because it means I need the client to be comfortable. They need to feel taken care of, they need to be comfortable in my representing them, and it means they need to be comfortable with those who I might have work with them, too. Generally speaking, by the time these clients reach the status where they have this kind of wealth, they're older. Older clients are generally more conservative. While I do have some clients who have tattoos (including one who has been a good source of revenue, though he is in the trades), they are few and far between.

I'm also going to point out that not every culture is okay with tattoos, and I find that recent immigrants are not as big on them. For me that's important because new immigrants are more likely than Canadian natives to start businesses and they need legal services but can't afford the big downtown firms. I've found that these more recent immigrants also like to help other immigrants from their group by connecting them to services, which means sending them to people that they know and think well of. I've got at least 4 or 5 such clients who are immigrants, have a fair number of legal needs themselves, and are CONSTANTLY recommending me to others. I think it's safe to say that not only are they comfortable with me, but they also think I will project a good image of them in terms of who they associate with and who they recommend out.

 

Like it or not, a lot of this business is perception oriented. I, personally, don't care what tattoos you have, even though I think tattoos are kind of silly (I mean, I stopped drawing on myself in early grade school), and I think getting easily visible tattoos indicates that you weren't thinking about the image that you'll be projecting, or that you prioritized a projection of an image of your creative self at a given moment in time over how you might need to present yourself later on in professional environments (and the ones who just have a seeming mess of tattoos all over the place... it looks like an indecisive mess that draws zero attention to any one thing and just leaves a negative impression in terms of what that likely means about you personally, and that's whether it's true or not). That said, I'm not hiring anyone to give them a job and to assist them in their journey of self-actualization and what not. If I hire someone it's because I have a need to fill, and that need is to provide proper service to my clients. My employees have NO OTHER PURPOSE! Everything about my firm is to provide better services to my clients or else to enable me to provide better services to my clients (such as the fidget cube on my desk, or the Advil and Tylenol I go through like PEZ). If the clients aren't happy then they stop coming, and if they stop coming then the firm closes or at least shrinks.

 

If I interview you and you look like someone who might be off putting to a client, then you better believe that's going to affect whether or not I hire you. Whether it's because you present yourself poorly, speak and/or communicate poorly, or look like you'd make them uncomfortable, then it's going to make me not want to hire you. Even if I think you'll only make a couple of them uncomfortable, that's a couple of clients I could lose (which I generally can't afford) or it's a couple of clients I can't send you to deal with. Generally speaking, right now, I hire people not to do things I can't do myself but rather to do things I don't have time for. Every minute I waste doing stuff I don't need to be doing is a minute I can't spend on the things I very much do need to be doing. Sometimes, that's just how it is, and I still work late most days, and often 7 days a week. But, I'm kind of done with the 14 and 16 hour days and am trying to move away from that kind of life. If you're telling me I have to move back closer to that, in any way, because you decided to have someone draw on you in permanent ink, then you are automatically at a disadvantage to people who don't cause me that. For me to overlook it, you need to blow me away in other areas or bring something entirely new to the table (if you're going to open an entirely new area of practice for my firm that I can't do, then it's a different story, for example).

 

Keep in mind that at the interview stage you haven't proven yourself yet and your name will likely be forgotten when you leave the room. When talking about applicants with my assistant you'd probably prefer I refer to you as "the one that seemed really confident" or "the one with the really nice tie" instead of "the one with that tattoo." Because I'm going to refer to you based on what stood out, and if your ink is what stood out and stuck in my mind then you automatically have a problem (if for no other reason than I didn't pick a descriptor that reminds me of something good about you).

https://i.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/019/304/old.jpg

Edited by bernard
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Most of the responses in this thread focus on people with a small tattoo or two. Anyone have thoughts on more heavily tattooed law students/lawyers? To be more specific, I'm thinking full sleeve(s) and such, not face, neck and/or hand tattoos (although if there are any such stories, I'd be interested in reading them).

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As an anecdote, I was at a panel that included an associate at a mid-size boutique who had visible tattoos extending past his shirt sleeves. I imagine he was heavily tattooed elsewhere.

 

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16 hours ago, hefeweizen said:

I have a visible tattoo on my leg (upper calf), and it was visible during my interviews for SCC clerkships as well as at my big-law firm (yes, I am a woman, and yes, I was wearing a skirt suit), and I was hired for both. I've never had anyone say anything about it. It's not particularly in-your-face and the subject matter is vanilla. I would say that tattoos which fit that description, and which can be covered by clothing fairly easily, aren't a detriment even at more conservative places of employment. Something really large, always visible, or of edgy subject matter (I'm thinking about this story) would result in different considerations. 

There's also, might interviewers make an effort to avoid looking at the legs of interviewees wearing a skirt?

At least for clerkships or lawyer positions. Though apparently for legal assistants having a lower-back tattoo is considered a relevant qualification... :twisted:

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I think most Bay St lawyers would not be fazed by a tattoo, as long as it's not gross/controversial, or above the shoulder blades. There are still some dinosaurs and tattoo prudes, though, so there may be marginal cases where it would make a difference.

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1 hour ago, Jaggers said:

I think most Bay St lawyers would not be fazed by a tattoo, as long as it's not gross/controversial, or above the shoulder blades. There are still some dinosaurs and tattoo prudes, though, so there may be marginal cases where it would make a difference.

If you are a person who wants a tattoo you'll likely find some other way to piss off the dinosaurs and prudes anyways. 

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I want to get a tattoo of a dinosaur. Would that have a higher chance of flying? 

 

Note, not a pterodactyl. 

 

:)

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Posted (edited)

I have a ton of tattoos. Legs, arms, torso. In fact, I’m having a sleeve worked on as we speak. It didn’t matter in law school because I didn’t care about what other law students thought of me in that regard, and it didn’t negatively impact me for interviews / employment because I ensure my arms and legs are always covered for that kind of stuff.  

If you’re super worried about your wrist or ankle, wear thicker tights with your skirt or pants instead. You can probably cover your wrist tattoo up with a watch or bracelets if you’re not wanting to wear long sleeves. 

Memories of hiding tattoos from my parents as a young person are flooding back to me as we speak. 

Edited by Lawtender33
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I have a tattoo on the upper part of my chest plate, which is visible if I unbutton the top button of a dress shirt, or if I don't wear an undershirt. I've never had any issues, but I cover up around half the time.

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