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TheGeneral

How much does appearance matter for success?

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OK everyone, here is a question that has been on my mind for a while.  Do you think an attractive person will have better chances in securing employment in the legal field?  Take for instance articling.  Let's suppose an attractive 27 year old female applies to a downtown Toronto office Baystreet firm and interviews in a nice H&M office blouse, skirt and Jimmy Choo shoes with a Gucci Bag.  Then comes in an overweight guy with a triple chin who wears a the cheapest Moores suit.  Now let's suppose all other things are equal in that the two candidates are the same age, same university, same GPA, same answers to the interviewer, same level of confidence.   

Do you think the lady would likely get the job?  How much does appearance matter for success?  Should we work on our appearance to increase our chances of employment?  

What is the "image of success" for a lawyer in your mind?

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Ok well you're obviously an attractive woman, or at least you think you are. You should be careful about the questions you ask in interviews. If they resemble anything like this one, you will be a candidate who looks good until they start talking. You'll also have to make the Resume cut which doesn't consider appearance unless recruiters check your LinkedIn. 

Edited by Trew
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Trew said:

Ok well you're obviously an attractive woman, or at least you think you are. You should be careful about the questions you ask in interviews. If they resemble anything like this one, you will be a candidate who looks good until they start talking. You'll also have to make the Resume cut which doesn't consider appearance unless recruiters check your LinkedIn. 

this. From what I heard recruiters are more or less interested in how well you can develop a personal rapport/relationships with people, how you conduct yourself in a professional setting, how you fit in with their culture...things along these lines etc. If you got the interview they're more or less already interested in you as a candidate. I love how people love to use the "same two candidates" as an ideal comparable. There's no such thing, one candidate will ultimately stand out because of their experiences, grades, or any of the aforementioned variables  (their professional/personal attributes.). There are just too many variables for two candidates to be "exactly the same". 

People love to say that so-and-so got the job because she's an attractive female. Im not going to assume anything about you OP - but I would take a long hard look at my thought process if these are the questions you are pondering. It's the other things that are going to stick. I know very smart people that didn't land their dream jobs because they weren't a well rounded candidate capable of connecting with people. Mind you, I'm a 0l so take my advice with a grain of salt - however I'm close with many people who have gone through the recruitment process with varying levels of success. With all this being said, there is obviously the notion of dressing and acting professionally/clean.

Edited by Bboy12
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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Bboy12 said:

this. From what I heard recruiters are more or less interested in how well you can develop a personal rapport/relationships with people, how you conduct yourself in a professional setting, how you fit in with their culture...things along these lines etc. If you got the interview they're more or less already interested in you as a candidate. I love how people love to use the "same two candidates" as an ideal comparable. There's no such thing, one candidate will ultimately stand out because of their experiences, grades, or any of the aforementioned variables  (their professional/personal attributes.). There are just too many variables for two candidates to be "exactly the same". 

People love to say that so-and-so got the job because she's an attractive female. Im not going to assume anything about you OP - but I would take a long hard look at my thought process if these are the questions you are pondering. It's the other things that are going to stick. I know very smart people that didn't land their dream jobs because they weren't a well rounded candidate capable of connecting with people. Mind you, I'm a 0l so take my advice with a grain of salt - however I'm close with many people who have gone through the recruitment process with varying levels of success. With all this being said, there is obviously the notion of dressing and acting professionally/clean.

This post is like me asking whether height makes a difference and then referring to the other candidate as a midget. Very off-putting to talk about someone like that. The same two candidates example is also annoying and unrealistic.

Edited by Trew
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13 minutes ago, changeofplans said:

ah yes, nothing says "image of success" like a 19.99$ H&M blouse.

I was coming to roast you for mocking H&M (because everyone should wear what they can afford as long as they look professional) but then I read OP’s post and I get it. Not sure why OP assumes H&M would be superior to “the cheapest thing at Moore’s”. 
 

And to echo what someone else said, if the “attractive female” came in and made asinine assumptions like OPs they wouldn’t make it very far in the recruitment process. Law firms are looking for well rounded candidates and that excludes people who mock people’s hypothetical triple chins. Tolerance for such shit is non-existent 

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Posted (edited)

Since everyone has already has piled on OP’s post, I’ll answer the actual question: of course appearance matters.

There are tons of studies showing that attractive people get job offers more frequently, earn promotions more quickly, and make more money than similarly situated unattractive people. Anybody who suggests that appearance is unimportant in the job market is simply wrong. 

Edited by BlockedQuebecois
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, TheGeneral said:

Then comes in an overweight guy with a triple chin who wears a the cheapest Moores suit.

FWIW I am pretty much this guy and have never felt that my appearance was an impediment to my career progress. I'm in a pretty desirable job, well-paying even by legal standards.

Necessary context: WASP-appearing cis man. YMMV.

Edited by whereverjustice
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Posted (edited)

I really think the OP is asking for a helping of snide, but I believe she's got it anyway and so I'm going to give this a straight answer. Mainly because I'm actually kinda interested in this question. And because the answer that I'm about to give goes far beyond the very shallow basis for this question.

There is rational bias towards what a lawyer should look like, and there is irrational bias towards what a lawyer should look like. And then there is a very strange area in between, where rational employes are concerned about bias in the minds of irrational clients. And all of this goes to something that law students often claim to understand and fail to recognize in reality - law is a business. We're in this to make money and pay our bills. And that means anything that goes to our ability to do that does matter, and should matter.

Rational bias goes like this. Lawyers are expected to have good judgment and to be able to sell that judgment for quite a lot of money to clients who are depending on it. A lawyer who doesn't know how to dress, how to behave in public, or how to groom him or herself is obviously questionable on other levels also. Is this fair? I don't know. Speaking as a guy who went into interviews not looking like a lawyer is "supposed" to, I believed I could be the exception to the trend. And truthfully, there are exceptions. You can also work an image where clients look at you and think "fuck, that guy must be a genius to get away with dressing like that." But obviously it's a lot easier to cut a conventional path when it comes to appearance, deportment, etc.

Irrational bias also exists, and this goes to all kinds of things that people cannot reasonably control and/or should not need to control, and therefore there's no way to connect it to judgment. A lawyer dressing like a slob or even wearing a hairstyle far outside the norm is making a choice. That goes to their decision-making. Someone who is short, a visible minority, etc. is obviously not making a choice about that. Some things fall into what's arguably a gray zone, such as religious trappings and what some might term acting "obviously" gay. That's why I include things here which both cannot be controlled and should not need to be controlled even if classified as theoretically controllable. Biases against these traits in a lawyer are both irrational and in most cases are illegally discriminatory. Do they exist to some degree in the minds of people anyway? Of course they do. Racism, sexism, etc. exist and are forces in society almost everywhere. But rational employers will at least try to avoid these things both because lawyers are generally rights-conscious and also because it's just good business sense. Because we want to make money. And we want people who don't just look like good lawyers - we want people who actually are good lawyers.

Finally, there's the strange middle-ground where otherwise rational lawyers are aware that we often represent irrational clients. And if our clients don't like who we send to help them, it's going to cost us money. This can and does pull things that otherwise shouldn't matter back into the realm of things that do matter, even for the most rational of employers.

So, what's the take away? First, control whatever you can control. I'll say that when I was in law school and figured I should be able to look however I wanted to look as long as I was good at the job, it make sense to me then. Now that I'm self-employed, and my appearance is critical to my ability to keep clients happy, I've found my attitude towards that has changed. Second, be aware of the entrepreneurial side of law and don't shy away from it. Honestly, if you dress like an obviously observant Muslim, it's going to affect how clients respond to you. At times it will be a challenge, at other times it may even be an advantage. Your prospective employers aren't going to want to duck around the issue all the time, so if that's a choice you've made (or, rather, a compromise you refuse to make) then lean into it and acknowledge it as a fact of your professional life.  But third, the over-arching point is this. No matter what people may think about what a good lawyer should look like, bias and surface impressions only last until you actually do the job and are seen doing the job.

Now, in direct reply to the OP. It's fine to follow general advice about professionalism and appearance. But there are jobs out there where being an attractive female is a direct qualification, and law isn't one of them. If you want to strip or hook for a living, go fucking do that. If you want to be a lawyer and sell your judgment instead of your ass, then spend your time working on the one that's going to matter more in the long term.

Edited by Diplock
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Posted (edited)

Look, you've compared lawyers to truck drivers, lamented the mid-life crisis that you haven't yet had, given others wildly incorrect advice as a 0L, and now this. 

If you're this terrified of going to law school and pursuing a legal career, then don't go. 

Edited by Tagger
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2 minutes ago, Tagger said:

Look, you've compared lawyers to truck drivers, lamented the mid-life crisis that you haven't yet had, given others wildly incorrect advice as a 0L, and now this. 

If you're this terrified of going to law school and pursuing a legal career, then don't go.

Are you a student or practicing lawyer Taggert?

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I am a practising lawyer and I will echo Taggert, if it helps. Your posts here are a bit... odd. 

But Diplock has the best answer in the thread. I agree with him in terms of your OP. 

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5 minutes ago, Tagger said:

Look, you've compared lawyers to truck drivers, lamented the mid-life crisis that you haven't yet had, given others wildly incorrect advice as a 0L, and now this. 

If you're this terrified of going to law school and pursuing a legal career, then don't go. Don't set up these wild hypotheticals and waste everyone else's time. 

It’s all starting to make sense, though.

OP is clearly an overweight guy with a triple chin who has recently suffered from a midlife crisis. This has lead him to wear a cheap suit from Moore’s every day while he completes his trucking route, and has even extended to considering a career shift into going to law school, where he will attend an Australian JD, complete a Harvard LLM, then get an SJD before returning triumphantly to Canada to usher in a new golden age of scholastic achievement in public and constitutional law. 

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8 minutes ago, TheGeneral said:

Are you a student or practicing lawyer Taggert?

 

I think Tagger (Not Taggert") just completed 1L 

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1 minute ago, Luckycharm said:

 

I think Tagger (Not Taggert") just completed 1L 

Right, my mistake.  I associated that name with Detective Taggert from Beverly Hills Cop.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Starling said:

I am pretty sure OP is not an attractive woman but is someone trying to see if an attractive woman would have an advantage over others. Women don't usually refer to themselves as "females" and if we're buying Jimmy Choos, we're not pairing them with an H&M blouse. 😉

Proof the female brain is superior 

Edited by Trew
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1 hour ago, healthlaw said:

I was coming to roast you for mocking H&M (because everyone should wear what they can afford as long as they look professional) but then I read OP’s post and I get it. Not sure why OP assumes H&M would be superior to “the cheapest thing at Moore’s”. 

ya lol no worries, I felt like OP needed a little roast for their unchecked classism and fatphobia

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

Since everyone has already has piled on OP’s post, I’ll answer the actual question: of course appearance matters.

There are tons of studies showing that attractive people get job offers more frequently, earn promotions more quickly, and make more money than similarly situated unattractive people. Anybody who suggests that appearance is unimportant in the job market is simply wrong. 

Halo effect is definitely a thing and its influence is not just limited to hiring.

Also, I just tend to think beautiful people have it easier in general. Not related to hiring (the following is a tangent), but I vividly remember shopping with an older, middle-aged relative during a busy shopping holiday. There was this extremely stressed/busy sales associate and I noticed that an attractive customer would repeatedly stop her to ask questions about whatever. The busy sales associate would then stop whatever she's doing and answer the question. I'm assuming she answered very calmly/professionally because the same customer came back twice to ask her even more questions. But then when my older relative asked her a question, she shot back, sounded really agitated, and dismissed the question (we ended up having to go to another associate to get the answer we were looking for).  I'm not saying this to sound bitter, but just to point out that it's important to recognize inherent biases. 

Edited by Twenty
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I spent the early part of my career in a very strange place where folks would say all sorts of strange things.

One thing that's worth considering is that not everyone likes being in the company of folks that might be considered more attractive than them. If folks are insecure, they might even try to undermine others to bring them down a peg.

For instance, when sitting in on interviews, there was one older female partner who would consistently find fault with how female applicants were dressed/groomed, how they laughed/smiled, and how they spoke. In one particular case, there was one applicant who did rather well in the interview but the partner decided that she'd been too "flirtatious".

So yes, there are certainly cases where being conventionally attractive will help but there are also others where it will undermine you (though there are probably more of the former than the latter).

 

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