Should Lawyers Get Inked?


It would he hard to call getting a tattoo a rebellious act or a thumbing of the nose at social norms or expectations. (A tattoo of a thumbing of the nose would be a cool tattoo, no?)

You don’t have to be a rock star, a rapper, an athlete, an actor or some other hip, cool, trendy personality to sport one. Indeed, as many as 36% of U.S. people between the ages of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo.

But what of lawyers? Should lawyers get tattoos?

Should they risk getting a tattoo, given they work in one of the more conservative professions going. Check out the rules for professional conduct. Try tattooing any one of those to your body to honor the profession. Ha! It’d be impossible, given their length.

Such as this, from California’s Rules of Professional Conduct: “For any other conduct, the rules of the jurisdiction in which the lawyer’s conduct occurred, or, if the predominant effect of the conduct is in a different jurisdiction, the rules of that jurisdiction shall be applied to the conduct.”

It’s 56 pages long! A tattoo artist would fall asleep tattooing any of it.

However, there may be some pretty rocking tattoo concepts for lawyers. How about Lady Justice, for instance? Right on the bicep!

Say you went to Yale Law School. How about the Yale Law School Shield, which sports a crocodile, greyhound and staples. Staples? (Um, Seth Staples was one of the school founders. The other symbols represent other founders … We had to Google that obviously.)

How about a tattoo of a pile of money, representing all the cash it took to get a law degree?

How about a gavel … No, how about a dragon slayer welding a gavel instead of a sword. That would be awesome!

However, we must return to the original question. Should a lawyer sport tattoos, no matter how cool they may be?

Well, there is good news. Lawyers are not, say, lifeguards. They don’t expose a lot of skin. And just about all of the advice we saw on the internet said lawyers can definitely rock a tat — just make sure it’s not exposed.

Several discussions on Reddit focus on it:

“I know plenty of attorneys with tats. Just nothing on your face, neck or hands,” one wrote.

And another: “If you can cover them up I don't think you have anything to worry about. Sure, tattoos showing in client meetings or in court may be slightly offputting, but if you're willing to wear long sleeves at work then what's the issue? Nobody will be the wiser.”

However, do beware that some older professionals are not fans. As one lawyer noted:

“I'm an 11 year attorney and I've heard judges/arbiters and partners make negative comments about a professional with tats. I would expect tats will continue to be a thing until millennials are 50-60 years old and setting trends among the power structure of the legal profession (judges, managing partners, etc).”

So be careful — especially on casual Fridays.