Do I Need to Upgrade My Image to Make Partner?

Q I’m a mid-level associate at an 80-lawyer firm and I want to make partner. I don’t ever hear any negative feedback about my work, but I’ll be the first to admit that I dress poorly, drive a crappy car (1998 Ford Ranger), and don’t otherwise have sophisticated tastes. I wasn’t concerned about this until yesterday when a partner said off the cuff that I would never make partner driving a POS and wearing Men’s Wearhouse. I thought he was joking, but none of the other partners in the room laughed. Okay, I get it. So where should I buy my suits and what kind of car should I get?

A None of the partners in the room laughed because they probably didn’t think that the douchebag’s comment was particularly funny. If there’s one thing that I’m categorically certain about, it’s that partners love nothing more than to seize any possible opportunity to give an associate negative feedback. Lawyers in general are a bunch of overly critical assholes who love to shit all over anyone unlucky enough to be situated below them on the totem pole, and this trait is magnified exponentially in partners. In other words, if you don’t receive negative feedback about your work, then you’re probably doing just fine. If you consistently do good work, avoid negative reviews, and don’t otherwise repel partners and clients with off-putting, socially awkward behavior, then I doubt that your suits and late model truck are that much of a problem.

I realize, though, that not everyone will agree with me, since there are a good many lawyers whose desperate hunger for status and prestige was probably what drove them to attend law school in the first place. If you truly fear that the decision-makers at your firm fall within that description, then sell the Ranger (that thing will probably run forever, given that you’ve never used it for anything other than hauling a briefcase and a stack of papers), lease a BMW 5 Series (a sedan, obviously), and go on a spending spree at the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale (definitely ask a sales guy for help before you buy anything). That’s pretty much all you need to blend right in with the other douchebag partners — if that’s really what you want for yourself.

  • TWW

    What’s wrong with Mens Wearhouse?!

  • Valarie Robinson

    1. Jos. A Bank is a very good place for upwardly mobile dress-for-success types to shop.
    2. Whether you a ready-made garment, either from the sale table at a thrift store or from a high- end department store, take a female that you trust (wing-girl or your 7th cousin twice removed) with you. Women have sensors like doplar. They can spot the flaws and give you feedback on how you will look overall in what you are trying on.
    3. When you make partner (and I know you will) invest in tailoring for your ready-made clothes (BESPOKEN TAILORS ARE WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN GOLD, SILVER, PLATINUM, AND TITANIUM). Then people will be asking you where you get YOUR clothes.
    4. Do well and Good Luck.

  • Frank

    Dude, a Nice car and nice clothes are what you need, not only to make partner but to score with women. You will never get quality women to bang unless you are at your best. I drove an old car and got nothing, but as soon as I bought an Acura, women are about lining up for a ride, which most of the time ends up in my bedroom. With the right car and attitude, women will be peeling off their panties before you get out of the car. Go for it!

  • Dan

    I drive a car that is far older than yours, I promise (My car make/model appears in the early seasons of Miami Vice). It’s not preventing me from making partner. Your partner was being an idiot.

  • Chris

    Fuck the people above have no idea. If you take care of yourself physically reasonably well any off the rack suit will probably fit alright and most places can do a bit of tailoring to suit you. Cut is the most important thing IMO, not the name on the inside.

    As for the car, if you’re looking to upgrade but are not prepared to spend the cash to buy something new off the lot, look for a Certified Pre-Owned German anything. Probably one of the big three – Merc, Audi, BMW. You’ll pay less depreciation.

    As for banging women because of your car….. if that’s all it takes, they’re probably shitty people and shitty lays. If I’m giving the poster above the benefit of the doubt, those girls probably liked something else about him anyways, and if the car makes him feel more confident…. all bonus.