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10 Dos and Don'ts for Law Firm Happy Hours

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By William Peacock, Esq. on September 11, 2014 2:34 PM

Drinking. It sure is fun, isn't it? It's as much a part of the common law as misprision. Lawyers drink, and soon enough, there will be a happy hour consisting of you and your fellow awkward associates, plus a partner or two.

How do you survive such alcohol-fueled social interactions with other human beings after spending the last four months in Supermax (aka your law firm cubicle)? Here are some "dos and don'ts" to get you started:

  1. Do: Drink, as long as you don't have a drinking problem, are not "with child," and your religion allows it. Sharing a drink with your coworkers can be a relaxing, bonding experience. Office happy hours are a great opportunity to build morale, get face time in with the bosses, etc.
  2. Don't: Get drunk. Remember those people in law school that got sloppy at every party? You don't want to be that person as a legal professional, throwing up in the bushes and needing someone to call you a cab home. Nurse your overpriced $10 beer and have a good time -- just not too good of a time.
  3. Do: Drink what you're comfortable with. You're there to have a good time, so don't feel like you need to drink a $50 whiskey if you're really a beer drinker. Besides, craft beer is the new wine.
  4. Don't: Drink crap. You may be the guy that goes HAM on Hamm's, I wouldn't ask for one at a law firm happy hour -- it's tacky.
  5. Do: Reciprocate on drink offers. If someone buys you a drink, it's only right that you return the favor.
  6. Don't: Do shots. Seriously, this isn't college.
  7. Do: Plan on way to get home -- the train, subway, taxi, a sober friend, whatever.
  8. Don't: Try to drive after more than one or two drinks. Your coworkers (and supervisors) will be watching, and they will be judging. It's not only embarrassing to have one of the firm's partners pull your keys out of your hand, but if you do get on the road, and get a DUI, your career will probably end there.
  9. Do: Make conversation. This is your chance to build friendships and have conversations that go beyond, "Do you have the client file for Licht v. Johnson?" Let your bosses and coworkers get to know you for something beyond your ability to write really good legal briefs.
  10. Don't: Gossip. Yeah, we get it -- you hate the head of the estates practice. Everyone does. And venting to friends is healthy. But at the office happy hour? Try to avoid negative conversation (it'll darken the mood) and gossip (it'll get back to person who is the subject of your criticisms -- we promise). Another banned topic: politics. Stick to happier, uncontroversial topics, like someone's kid, or vacation plans.

Have any other tips or horror stories? Tweet us @FindLawLP.

Editor's Note, September 10, 2015: This post was first published in September 2014. It has since been updated.

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