One day a few years ago, a young Justice Department lawyer in San Francisco appeared in court wearing pants. When she stood to speak, the judge reprimanded her and demanded that, in the future, she dress more appropriately in his courtroom. She answered, “But judge, defendant’s counsel is wearing pants!” Defendants’ counsel was male.

This true story, related by an in-house lawyer in Dallas, illustrates the limits of the trend toward more casual dress. A recent National Law Journal survey of lawyers’ dress shows a surprisingly high penetration of casual Fridays, approaching 90%. [NLJ, May 31.] Yet a survey, by definition, ignores nuances.