ARE WIGS AND GOWNS STILL RELEVANT IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION?
Wearing a wig and gown has long been a tradition for lawyers in many countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Nigeria and some parts of the Commonwealth.
The use of wigs and gowns by lawyers is a tradition that dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries in England. At the time, wig-wearing was a common practice among wealthy or fashionable people and lawyers sought to adopt this style as a symbol of their social and professional status.
The use of these items in the legal profession has been the subject of much Debate over the years, with arguments for and against their continued use. Here is a synopsis of both arguments.
The argument for the continual use of wigs and gown
It is believed that wigs and gowns are still very relevant in the legal profession for the following reasons:
1.Symbol of professionalism: The wig and gown are seen as symbols of professionalism, tradition, and authority. They help to set lawyers apart from other professions and reinforce the seriousness of their role in the legal system.
2.Sense of identity: Higher-ranking lawyers suck as Senior Advocates and Attorney Generals have different versions of the wig and gown. This also goes for judges in various courts. It unites all practicing lawyers in a courtroom but distinguishes them at the same time.
3.Respect for the law: The wig and gown serve as visual reminders of the gravity of the legal system and the importance of upholding the law. They help to instill respect for the law and the legal process in the public. Many law school students may have heard their teachers say, “the law is a somber profession”.
The argument against the continual use of wigs and gowns
It has also been argued that the continual use of wigs and gowns has no relevant contribution in modern times to the legal profession for the following reasons:
1.Outdated tradition: Critics argue that the wig and gown are outdated symbols of a bygone era and are no longer relevant in modern society. They see them as being out of touch with the values and norms of contemporary society.
2.Expensive and uncomfortable: The wig and gown can be expensive to purchase and maintain, they can also be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. This can be especially challenging for lawyers who work long hours in courtrooms and those who work in countries with exceptionally hot weather such as Nigeria.
3.Perceived as elitist: Some people view the wig and gown as symbols of elitism and exclusion, suggesting that they are intended to distance lawyers from the general public and make them seem unapproachable.
Ultimately, the tradition of wearing wigs and gowns has continued to this day, although the practice has diminished somewhat in recent decades. In some countries, such as England and Wales, the use of wigs is still widespread in courtrooms and other legal settings, although the gowns worn by lawyers are often less elaborate than those of the past. In other countries, such as the United States, the wearing of wigs and gowns by lawyers has become much less common, and many lawyers now opt to wear more traditional business attire in the courtroom.