I originally detested it! The black jacket and gown, a lawyer has to wear to courts! It’s alien, foreign and not conducive to Indian environment, especially Kerala’s tropical climate. That was my opinion when I started practicing at Munsiff Court, Perumbavoor, in the year 2008. The mofussil court halls there hardly had any ceiling fans and the air conditioners were reserved to the High Court and cash-rich tribunals like DRT. Being a junior, I was running around everywhere on a bike, and the black attire used to tire me and drench my inner world.
Ten years down the line, I understand why the elders prescribed this uncomfortable outfit.
To break it down, one has to get an idea about the routine work of a moderately good lawyer. He is not spending much of his time in court halls arguing cases. His juniors do that – running through courts. The senior lawyer is confined to a seat, doing hours and hours of drafting, researching, meeting clients and reading illegible depositions. Court appearances are there, but office work predominates the life of a good lawyer. The most difficult task of a lawyer is to draft a petition, correctly. Any junior can represent a case in court, but drafting requires extensive experience. So, by age, a lawyer matures from his bike to a car, and from several court halls to a select few, and is mainly confined to a seat in his office.
The perks of sitting in an office for more than 18 hours a day are increased waist line and protruding belly. Yes, one can guesstimate the success of a lawyer by gauging his belly.
Anyway, so to tame these unwanted physical protrusions, the elders prescribed lawyers to wear black coat and the gown, to courts. To make all lawyers look decent and healthy, more like a human, and less like a frog! Yes, the black coat is to tuck the unyielding tummy, and the over gown is to hide the other physical projections. That is the true objective behind the senseless attire – to make lawyers look physically sensible.