Trainee barristers were told they risk having their exam scores marked down if they wore short skirts, colorful socks, or “kinky boots,” according to a handbook reported on by UK-based legal news website Legal Cheek.
A list of prohibited activities was issued to students of a London law school warning that exam points would be docked for “offenses of professional conduct” during assessments. The assessment is part of the Bar Professional Training Course that allows law graduates to be named and practise as barristers in England and Wales.
Barristers, the type of lawyer that appears in court, have traditionally been required to dress conservatively in the courtroom. Court wear has historically included wigs, waistcoats, and heavy gowns, although reforms in 2008 relaxed uniform policies for some barristers and judges in civil proceedings. Students planning to become solicitors study the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and take a different exam.
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The handbook is published by BPP University Law School based in Holborn, central London. Students were told that women should not wear short skirts and “nothing above the knee” or they might have two points deducted from exam scores (The Guardian). The document also said women should not show cleavage and that three points would be docked “if bra shows.”
The guide warned men would be penalized for having jackets undone or for wearing ties that aren’t “sober and discreet.” Drinking from water bottles is also frowned upon, potentially resulting in a penalty of two or three exam points.
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