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Can You Make Partner with a Belly Ring or a Neck Tattoo?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on November 03, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You're a billable hour machine. You're killing it on all your cases and have even brought in some clients to the firm. You're a top associate at your firm and on your way to making partner.

Then disaster strikes.

You tragically get hammered on Blue Moons at the company picnic and show off your belly piercing and tramp stamp.

Have you kissed that corner office and equity partner status away?

You might just have.

Now, if you are rocking a tat of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure your hiring partners might think you're just committed to the law.

At the same time, expressing yourself via piercings and tattoos can come at a cost. It might not mean you will get fired. But it could mean the firm may be less likely to hand over that coveted partnership slot.

Corporate and firm dress codes vary widely. What's "standard" may also depend on how stodgy and uppity your firm is.

Whatever the case, it seems safe to assume that conservative firms will implement a conservative dress code policy.

This might mean that partners may frown upon associates that don nose rings.

After all, if your clients are big-name corporations, they might not take kindly to paying $400 an hour for an associate that is riddled with piercings and stained with ink.  You can disagree with this assessment, but it's at your own peril.

Note that this doesn't mean you shouldn't be free to express yourself. If you're hankering for a position at a firm but also are committed to permanently dying one of your body parts, consider doing it somewhere more discreet.

It's relatively easy to cover up a small tattoo on your back or your arm. Just wear a shirt. Same goes with piercings: a pierced belly button is easily masked with a conservative blouse.

While visible tattoos at work may be a no-no, non-visible tattoos probably won't derail your partnership dreams.

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