Residence: San Jose, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 17, 2016
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): French
The informant, a 66-year-old American woman, has practiced law for over thirty years in the San Francisco Bay Area. I asked the informant if she would be able to hold a video call with me over FaceTime, and during our conversation I asked if she or her partners had any superstitions or rituals that they would engage in before entering court. She responded that while she herself did not have any particular good luck charms or pre-trial rituals,
“both of my partners insist on wearing the same tie on the first day of court. Not for the actual trial, but for jury selection, because that’s most important. I’ve seen other firms with similar traditions on the first day of trial, and while I don’t take part, Peter and Charles swear by it.”
Folklore in the workplace is always extremely interesting to hear about, especially when individuals who have been working together for a long period of time have engaged in the same traditions throughout their careers. Wearing the same tie on the day of jury selection seems to signify that the two partners are both on the same entering the trial for a particular case. This silent agreement between the two could very well help them to perform better during jury selection, by providing a bit of necessary reassurance from a close coworker. It is interesting that while other firms engage in the same superstition, that they do not always do so at the same point in the trial. This speaks to the difference in value that any particular firm places on a specific point in the trial. While some, like the informant’s partners, may view jury selection as most important, others see the first day in trial as the point at which good luck is most necessary. I asked the informant why her partners chose a tie and not any other sort of matching accessory, and she replied, “Matching ties are the least obtrusive. If a group of attorneys were to walk into court all wearing bright blue suits and dresses, nobody would take them seriously.” The professional atmosphere required by the courtroom, then, plays a role in the manifestation of this superstition. Perhaps for a group of soccer players, a similar superstition would result in a team wearing identical cleats instead of ties.