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Author Topic: Update: Does having Dreads or locks matter (A Male's Point of View)  (Read 4059 times)

mjohn008

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I am writing this in response to the discussion at http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/index.php?topic=4021319.10 . Since the last update was over 2 years ago I wanted to make a recent response because I would like feedback from people now.

I am starting law school in the fall and I am proud to say that I have dreadlocks, and I plan to keep the for as long as possible.  There seems to be no problem with me keeping them during law school, but it sounds like it's a no-no when it's time to start applying for firms.

I recognize the limitations that my hair may cause me, which is why I am open to cutting them if I could get a straight answer on whether or not it would affect my employment aspects. However, I feel there is a point that has not been raised either here, or any other website where I've tried to do research on this topic: while people are quick to point out the potential racial discrimination in having dreadlocks as a lawyer, I have not seen anyone raise the aspect of the more permissive SEXUAL discrimination involved as well.

I have seen many black FEMALE lawyers, businesswomen, etc., with locks, kinky twists, braids, etc., who have do not seem to be judged as harshly when getting employment, but when a black MALE decides to have a hairstyle different from the traditional fade or crew-cut, and all of a sudden it's considered UNPROFESSIONAL?!? I feel this is blatant hypocrisy and a double standard.

I probably would not resist cutting my locks so much if there was a universally-accepted standard that they would not be accepted in any format as a lawyer, but this unfair standard only seems to be applied more strictly to men, while women seem to have more leniency. If someone can provide me a reasonable answer why, as a black male, I should accept this and just cut them off, regardless of the care, effort, and money I invest into making them look as clean and professional as possible, it may change my opinion. Otherwise, I do intend on keeping them after law school and unless specifically told otherwise, will allow people to judge me by my work and professionalism, and not by my appearance.

oceanblue

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Re: Update: Does having Dreads or locks matter (A Male's Point of View)
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2011, 08:43:40 PM »
Wouldn't it depend on where you are working?  There are some extremely conservative law firms that might not let women have them either, just as they wouldn't let me have tatoos all over and lots of piercings.  Unfortunatly, many law firms clients they defend have dreads and they don't have the character you do.  The world hasn't evolved alot, I do think for some jobs it could work against you.

Terrance

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Re: Update: Does having Dreads or locks matter (A Male's Point of View)
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2011, 10:30:56 AM »
Unfortunately, I believe that your dreads will drastically limit your chances of getting into a reputable firm. For the vast majority of firms, image and professionalism is very important. It is sad that you may be overlooked because of your hairstyle, but I am afraid that this is the grim reality. However, if it is worth it to you to keep your dreads, I am sure that if you are a good lawyer, and are persistent about finding a good firm who will accept you as you are, I think you can find one eventually, but it will be much more difficult. I was wondering if anyone has ever heard of Chrysalis School Montana? I am considering sending my daughter there, and was wondering if anyone has had any experience with this school. Thanks you.

lawyerintraining

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Re: Update: Does having Dreads or locks matter (A Male's Point of View)
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2011, 02:10:27 PM »
It would probably help your odds of becoming an adjunct prof at this shool.....

http://www.edls.edu.bs/     ;D

Morten Lund

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Re: Update: Does having Dreads or locks matter (A Male's Point of View)
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2011, 04:58:30 PM »
Unfortunately, I believe that your dreads will drastically limit your chances of getting into a reputable firm. For the vast majority of firms, image and professionalism is very important. It is sad that you may be overlooked because of your hairstyle, but I am afraid that this is the grim reality. However, if it is worth it to you to keep your dreads, I am sure that if you are a good lawyer, and are persistent about finding a good firm who will accept you as you are, I think you can find one eventually, but it will be much more difficult.

Absolutely correct.

It may be that there is a double standard regarding hair styles for gender.  I also have little doubt that ethnicity plays into the equation.  That is horribly, horribly unfair.

But I don't care how unfair it is, and neither should you.

Instead, I encourage all jobseekers - particularly these days - to focus on REALITY, however unfortunate it may be.  And the REALITY is that in most legal jobs, any deviation from "standard" will make things harder for you, and will injure your long-term career potential (or just end your career outright).  The REALITY is that as a black male you already have one strike (at least) against you in many professional environments - why voluntarily make it harder for yourself with your hair?

There will come a time when you can rock the dreads, loosen the tie a little, and maybe even wear a three-button suit - but that time is most emphatically NOT at the beginning of your career.  That time comes after your coworkers know you and your work, and they will look past your unusual appearance.  Right now is when you conform.  You can be individualist later - but if you want to work in a law firm of any size and repute, right now you should do your best to remove your appearance from the equation.  Heck - just go with a Carlton impression if needed.  You will have plenty of opportunity to "be yourself" - later.

Random old-guy story:  women in my class were generally advised to wear only skirts to the office (no pantsuits), because senior partners would disapprove of the pants.  Same deal as the dreads, basically.  Unfair and/or immoral?  Sure.  Still good advice?  Abso-freaking-lutely.

The unemployment lines are filled with idealists and individualists who just couldn't suck it up for a couple of years.  Don't let that be you.

Either way, good luck.


(Apologies for the rant overkill.  I do get carried away.)

fortook

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Re: Update: Does having Dreads or locks matter (A Male's Point of View)
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2011, 10:06:27 PM »
Hair?  Is this for real? ....hair?
"Thank you for inviting me, Mrs. Palin." "Thank you for cutting your mullet, Levi."

Citylaw

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Re: Update: Does having Dreads or locks matter (A Male's Point of View)
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2013, 01:45:55 PM »
It probably won't matter as much once you are hired, but if your coming into an interview and competing with hundreds of other people who will also be recent graduates as experienced as you the Dreads may turn some places off, but other places may like it.

If you want to work in Biglaw coming in with giant dreads will not go over well, but if you want to do criminal defense or eviction work then dreads might be fine. Really depends on where you want to work.