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There's no doubt that while working as an associate, grinding out billable hours better than any robot ever could, attorneys are going to need some stress relief. However, relying on alcohol as the primary method of stress relief can lead to serious health consequences.
Many law firms host weekly happy hours, or may even have a fully stocked bar onsite. Some real life lawyers even have those fancy crystal glass liquor decanter sets you see in TV lawyers' offices. But will just working at a law firm lead to alcoholism?
Peer Pressure or Pressure Chamber
Whether you enjoy drinking, or just do it socially to fit in, drinking on a regular basis can lead to alcohol dependency. Two of the biggest factors that lead to daily drinking are often the stress of the profession and the cultures within certain firms.
If you're sneaking off after work to take solace in a pint after a stressful day every once in a while then you're probably not an alcoholic. But if that regular drink turns into a several regular drinks, and you find yourself drinking every single day, you might need to rethink your stress relief regimen before it becomes a problem, or before it becomes a serious problem. Maybe try a fruit cup, or some exercise, or perhaps a simple hobby.
If your firm's culture encourages drinking, either through booze fueled networking and teambuilding events, or it's just your specific peer group, it can often feel like drinking is mandatory. If the firm happy hour is the only chance you'll get to network with colleagues and partners you don't have access to during your normal work day, showing up without a drink in hand can seem awkward. But this awkwardness is not insurmountable.
How to Avoid Alcohol at Firm Events
In the legal profession, despite the high rate of alcoholism, there's a stigma attached to alcoholics. Complicating matters, not drinking at a firm event can often be a signal that a person may have struggled with alcoholism in the past (why hello there double-edged sword). Luckily, you don't actually ever need to have a sip of booze at a bar.
It may seem like you need to be drinking alcohol at a happy hour or other firm event, but you might be surprised by how naturally a bartender takes an order for a club soda, over ice, with a slice of lime, or a Shirley Temple. Also, non-alcoholic beer can be found at nearly every single watering hole and restaurant, along with ginger ale. If that doesn't work for you, ask for a cranberry juice in a wine glass, or just any juice, over ice, in a tumbler.