It’s Time to Give Legal Shorts Their Due
Practising lawyers spend a lifetime handling briefs — of varying dimensions and daring. The profession is also presumably well acquainted with legal shorts, without those succinct expositions, many an argument may not be able to cut to the chase. So, the class action over a fellow law student’s attire appears to be anything but a cut-and-dried case. Court attire has remained curiously old fashioned in India at a time when black robes have been dispensed with in many countries, not to mention the black-and-white-only dress codes and horsehair wigs. Of course, there are cases where lawyers have been upbraided in some countries for appearing in court in shorts, but it is germane to note that in Bermuda, shorts are accepted legal dress. Even if the student decided to interpret the concept of legal shorts as a fashion statement, without mens rea and inculpatory evidence, she can’t be deemed to have committed any offence — except that of outraging her teacher’s sensibilities, which is not against the law anyway. But the reported move by the Bar Council of India to suggest that students adopt court attire even before they formally enter the profession impinges on their freedom of sartorial expression, an important part of collegiate life. Unfortunately, that is not against the law either. An out-of-court settlement is the only answer.