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Gentlemen of the New York Bar, be warned: a young litigator by the name of Shanin H. Lott wants the shirt off your back. Your coat and trousers, too. “I’d been looking for some way to really attach myself to New York,” said Lott, 31, a Canadian who joined the Manhattan firm Heard & O’Toole two years ago. “Where could I fit in? What would be useful?” Very helpfully, Lott created a clothing drive she calls “Law Suits,” in aid of the non-profit “Career Gear,” an agency providing gently used wardrobes to men down on their luck but needing to look snappy for job interviews and a fresh start in life. Everywhere in America, there are “Dress for Success” affiliates available to women. But until four years ago, there was no equivalent for men of extremely modest means. Unfair, reasoned Lott when she first learned of Career Gear. This was during a flight home to her native Windsor, Ontario, on Thanksgiving Day 2001. Her seatmate was Gary Field, a New York social worker who thought likewise in 1998 and accordingly founded Career Gear. “She immediately understood what I’ve been talking about on my soap box,” said Field. “We help women and children, and that’s good. But if we send them back into communities where the men aren’t working, the communities themselves are not going to heal.” At home in New York after the holidays, Lott began her cause by appropriating garments from her husband, Will Hutchins, 30, a Montrealer who is now a corporate associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. The couple, both graduates of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, in turn solicited 25 New York law firms. The result, said Field, was “a substantial contribution” to last year’s fashion line. This fall, Lott aims to double the number of contributing firms. “Canadian lawyers had this time of great opportunity when we came here in January of 2001,” said Lott, who was previously with the Toronto firm Stikeman Elliott, as was her husband. “I wound up with a job I absolutely love, I’ve got a great landlord, and I’ve made a lot of friends in a short time. Still, I needed to make New York more my city.” Once she met Field, she was home free indeed. “Not only does a suit make you look good, it makes you feel professional,” said Lott. “It affects your whole demeanor.” To encourage charitable impulses, a premium will be available during this fall’s “Law Suits” drive. In September, New York lawyers may drop their trousers, so to speak, at any tri-state Men’s Wearhouse location. In return, they will receive a long-term customer discount card. Recovered from substance abuse himself, Field was once in the same position as the men he now serves. He knows, therefore, the urgent need of decent attire. And he has his standards. “Anything a donor himself would feel comfortable wearing to an interview is what we need,” said Field. “We don’t expect new, but nice.” Contributions may also include belts, coats, shoes and socks, he said. “The whole point is: what does it mean when our guys put on suits? A suit gives you confidence,” said Field. “Why do you think lawyers wear suits?”

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