In the early 1980s, I was a member of a small law firm in Dallas. It wasn’t much more than an office with two offices and a receptionist. The only other attorney on staff was my boss who had been there since our founding 20 years earlier. We were struggling to stay afloat but it seemed that we always turned over new clients every week—people who came to us for help with divorce or child custody or bankruptcy or probate matters, basically any kind of civil litigation matter.
In those days, most lawyers wore business suits – mostly conservative dark colors – although there were some colorful exceptions such as my friend George Washington Bush (yes, really), who favored bright orange corduroy jackets and pink ties when he practiced law before becoming vice president under his father President George H. W. Bush from 1989 through 1993). And let’s not forget about Michael Dukakis—in 1988 he sported turquoise suspenders!
But back to me: In those first few weeks at work, I discovered that many of the people coming into the office didn’t respect attorneys as leaders in their communities nor did they think too highly of lawyers generally; they considered us employees rather than leaders in their lives and businesses….as one client put it: “They take you away from your family so you can sue them instead? Ha!” They thought we should be wearing ties like bankers wear collars–I mean white ones–not