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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bar Exam Dress Codes

The California bar exam does not have a dress code, and many people I know who are taking the exam are thankful for this. I am ditching my own tradition of wearing a tie during exams -- it served me well in law school, but given the length of the bar exam and the stress involved, I think that I will do best with more comfortable clothing.

But this wouldn't fly in a state like Virginia. For the Virginia Bar Exam, the Board of Bar Examiners has one of the most delightful dress codes I have ever seen:

The Board is aware that many law firms and other professional offices have "dress down" policies of varying descriptions. There is no "dress down" or "casual dress" policy at the Virginia Bar Exam. 
Applicants who come to the Virginia Bar Exam are expected to dress in proper attire. For men, proper attire is coat and tie. For women, proper attire is traditional business attire. 
Recognizing the high calibre of professionalism that has traditionally characterized the bar, the Board is confident that no further discussion of this topic will be necessary.
This is the strictest dress code I have seen for a bar exam, and after looking through some states' rules for their bar exams, it seems that dress codes for these exams are pretty rare. I did find that the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions mandates "quiet shoes" with soft soles, and prohibits flip flops in order to avoid disruption during the exam. And if a test-taker wants to dress in the spirit of Virginia's requirements, that person's coat may be subject to search for prohibited items.

On a side note, if I ever start a law firm, I will probably steal the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners' dress code word-for-word.

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