Why Do Lawyers Wear White Wigs in Court
But the wig survived, along with other relics from the colonial courtroom: red robes, white bows, references to judges like „my lord“ and „my lady.“ The Middle Temple Library`s latest exhibit, „Legal Fashion,“ features a history of English court dress from the 14th century to recent times. The exhibition, organized in partnership with the Middle Temple Archive, opened last month, coinciding with London Fashion Biennale. Dress codes in any profession have symbolic meaning and represent something that is the motive of the profession. Similarly, wigs have symbolic significance in the legal field. They represent the elitist character of the profession. They were a fashion statement in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Wigs symbolize sophistication and an already existing custom. The courtwear of British judges and lawyers (as the British call lawyers) may seem straight out of the Renaissance, but wigs and dresses are more than just an opportunity to dress up. The tradition of wearing a white wig and dress dates back to the 17th century – and few uniforms have changed since then. Judges and lawyers also wear wigs, but they are different from those who wear lawyers. Lawyer wigs have a little more glare, and wigs that thrill judges make them look more like a final boss than anyone else in the courtroom. The outlet compares the wig to a uniform: „Like many uniforms, wigs are a symbol of anonymity, an attempt to distance the wearer from personal involvement, and a way to visually tap into the supremacy of the law,“ Newton explains.
Wigs are so much a part of British criminal courts that if a lawyer does not wear a wig, it is considered an insult to the court. Legal clothing continues to evolve to this day. Last year, we reported that an Australian company manufactures and sells vegan plastic wigs. Its goal, they told us, is to meet the needs of all its customers, and given the rise of veganism, it makes sense to offer synthetic wig options. Dress codes usually help distinguish people from different professions. The dress code also plays an important role in the legal profession. Wigs help distinguish judges from other normal people and create their own identity. Therefore, another factor to consider in the debate over the validity of wigs as an integral part of avocado clothing is the additional connotation of distinction. The wigs, as well as the whole costume of the lawyers, make the appearance clear and separate from the rest of the people. Read also – What is the dress code for women lawyers? Several campaigns have been launched to get judges and lawyers to get rid of wigs during hearings.
The first attempt to abolish wigs was made by Sir Robert Collier in 1868. However, all these reforms, whether historical or modern, have failed. Wigs are still worn in criminal trials; However, some people want it deleted. So far, there have been no successful attempts, and this tradition continues. However, this custom is not widespread in India to date. Read also – How to impress a judge in court But in the former British colonies – Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Malawi and others – they live, carried by judges and lawyers. Today, a new generation of African jurists is asking: why do the continent`s most prominent legal minds still wear the insignia of colonizers? When it comes to trendsetters, no one has had a greater impact on British wigs than Louis XIV of France. During his reign from 1643 to 1715, the Sun King disguised his prematurely bald scalp – historians believe it was caused by syphilis – with a wig.
In doing so, he set in motion a trend widely followed by Europe`s upper and middle classes, including his cousin Charles II, the King of England (who is also said to have syphilis), who reigned from 1660 to 1685. It`s not just a matter of aesthetics. Wigs and dresses are perhaps the most blatant symbol of colonial legacy at a time when this history is being dredged in all sorts of ways. This year, Tanzanian President John Magufuli described a proposed free trade agreement with Europe as a „form of colonialism.“ In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe still calls the British „thieving colonialists“. Increasingly, however, opponents of colonial organization argue not only against the drawbacks, but also against a tradition that the African judicial system seems to adopt. The British „colonial courts“ that preceded independence were sometimes brutal. In response to the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in the 1950s, white judges sentenced more than 1,000 people to death for conspiracy against colonial rule. Judges: Judges have different judicial robes depending on their status and the type of court in which they practice. Usually, have a short bench wig and reserve a longer wig for ceremonial occasions For those of us who can`t make it to London, wigs originally entered the legal uniform for the same reason they entered general colonial fashion – because people were riddled with syphilis and lice.
„Actually, that`s the most important point to have them,“ said Kevin Newton, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who studied law at the University of London, when we first spoke to him in 2017. Newton added that colleagues of lawyers, known as lawyers, meet clients outside the courtroom and do not wear wigs. This must have helped that wigs were made from white horsehair, with cheaper wigs made from the follicles of a shaved goat instead. It didn`t take long for wigs to become a status symbol, and if that sounds strange to you, remember that sneakers have gone from no-frills sportswear to a multi-billion dollar industry and there are people who dedicate their entire lives to reselling sneakers. Horsehair may seem disgusting, but in the past, people took hair from human corpses to make these wigs, so it could be worse. And vegans are even involved, because being judged is no reason not to signal one`s own moral superiority. From Legal Cheek: But why did powdered wigs enter the fashion scene in the first place? Why cover the head with a mass of artificial curls that itch and transpile? Syphilis is to blame. The legal system in India derives largely from the judicial structure of the courts in the United Kingdom. In Britain, it was common for lawyers and judges to wear black coats, white collars and grey wigs.
This tradition dates back to a few centuries ago in Britain. „The Discourse on Robes and Apparel,“ a scientific paper from 1625, led to the introduction of the robe and wig in courtrooms and changed the way officials dressed. The main reason for this assumption was to distinguish judges and lawyers from other members of society. In the past, judges wore horsehair wigs. The judges` continuous wigs were usually quite expensive, even though horsehair was not a scarce resource. Instead of changing society to find a way to live a cleaner, healthier life, they decided to put wigs on instead, and it worked. Instead of attacking people`s actual hair, lice would instead infest wigs, allowing people to shave their scalps or cover their natural hair with a cloth while a bunch of insects gathered on their wigs. Queen`s Council: A silk dress, a court coat and a waistcoat. On special occasions, a QC must wear a long wig, black pants, silk stockings, lace cuffs and buckle shoes. „The colonial system used the law as an instrument of oppression, and we still maintain this tradition without questioning it,“ said Arnold Tsunga, Africa Program Director at the International Commission of Jurists. „It`s a shame for Africa`s modern dishes.“ You may think you`ve gone back to the Renaissance when you see the British judge`s court attire, but they don`t just wear judge wigs and lawyer`s robes to dress up.
The tradition of wearing a white wig and dress dates back to the 17th century – and few uniforms have changed since then. That`s probably not what afflicts Amal Clooney today. But today, the reason the legal community still approves of wearing wigs is the same reason their judges sometimes wear black caps – to kill people. Well, not quite. Judges wear black caps when handing down death sentences, but that`s one of the main reasons everyone wears wigs. It`s all part of a symbolic distancing. Peruke, as they call their wigs because „wig“ was not a ridiculous name, is largely meant to separate the lawyer or judge from the work they do. In that sense, it`s no different from America`s legal robes — only much larger.