The Mystery of the Black Coat

13 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2014

Date Written: August 10, 2014


From a perspective of a common citizen, a visit to the local court can indeed be a petrifying experience, even after several changes have been introduced. And the irony is that the court was established with the aim to facilitate and aid the layperson in seeking justice! The hustling-bustling stretches of the corridors of power emanate an air of supremacy, establishing a rich contrast between the anxious visitors and the haughty lawyers adorned in black coats - the robe imparting to them an unbeatable confidence. Hence, the omniscient lawyers establish their authority over powerless citizens on account of their knowledge of complicated laws, devious processes and a complex system which is incomprehensible to the so-called non cogent minds of ordinary citizens! However, in the sweltering heat in Delhi recently, when monsoon has also failed to enchant with its aquatic bliss and has cut across to neighboring area surrounding Delhi while leaving it parched and dry, the visit to the temple of justice becomes more enigmatic as being surrounded by the professionals in the Black blazers makes one feel the heat to be more scorching. Firstly, the color black, scientists claim, absorbs more heat, and secondly, the blazer with full sleeves in the humid weather doesn’t let the sweat dry exacerbating the effects of the clammy climate. This article therefore is about my quest as a lawyer and a researcher to demystify the black coat anomaly as to why one would wear such dress when climate wise it is unsuitable. Is it an illusion of power or a symbol of oppression? Nevertheless, when I reflect years back on my personal experience as an advocate entering the court as a novice, wearing the black coat gave me a feeling of liberation, autonomy and a sense of independence that helped me to find a space in this male dominated profession, but when I sweat profusely in killing summers of Delhi, I realized that it is a tool for oppression and torture.

Keywords: Law, Lawyers, Black Coat, India, Colonial Legacy, Change, Judges, Black Robes, The Advocate Act, Legal Provisions, Dress

Suggested Citation

Nigam, Shalu, The Mystery of the Black Coat (August 10, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Shalu Nigam (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

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