What Not to Wear – How to Dress in Bankruptcy Court

What to wear to bankruptcy courtHere in Phoenix where I live it is hot this time of year.  And don’t tell me it is a “dry heat”.  115+ is flat out hot whether humid or not.

In the summer time it is not unusual to see fewer and fewer clothes on my fellow Arizonans.  However, no matter the temperature outside you will still see me and my fellow lawyers climbing the bankruptcy courthouse steps in our dark suits.  In fact, here in Arizona the bankruptcy judges generally will not allow a male lawyer to appear in court without a suit jacket.

Which brings me to the topic of this post – what are you expected to wear when you attend the court proceedings in your bankruptcy case?

First, I need to point out that generally there is only one time when you will have to appear at any type of court proceeding and that is at the Meeting of Creditors.  Here in Phoenix this meeting is held at the bankruptcy court in one of the meeting rooms.

While this meeting is held at the bankruptcy court it is not technically a “court” proceeding and your bankruptcy judge will not be there.  At the meeting of creditors most lawyers will still wear suits or other business attire.  I see people who are going through bankruptcy wear anything from suits to something akin to a bathing suit!

While you don’t need to wear a suit and tie or dress I do tell my clients that this is a legal proceeding where you will be giving sworn testimony and thus it is appropriate that your dress reflect this more than say if you were going the beach.  I tell my clients business casual is the way to go and I will let them interpret what that is considering their wardrobe.

Sometimes it will be necessary to attend a court hearing in the court room with your actual bankruptcy judge.  As I mentioned above the dress code in the courtroom is much more formal than the meeting of creditors.  Yet, just today I was in the courtroom waiting for my hearing and I saw a woman go stand before the judge with her attorney and she was wearing cutoffs.

I know that this woman didn’t mean any disrespect to the court by her dress, but how you appear at your court proceedings should be something you have at least given some thought to prior to jumping in your car and heading on down to the courthouse.