The hard-drinking Biglaw culture can become unhealthy in a lot of ways, but one of the most glaring is its contribution to the incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s a connection that’s led some firms to phase-out drinking at firm social events in a bid to stay ahead of misconduct. But across the pond, Linklaters has appointed a number of booze chaperones to stay sober and monitor social gatherings to make sure nothing untoward happens.
The policy is really more of a strong suggestion, with the firm encouraging partners to designate chaperones to keep their people safe while pounding a few back.
“Our people work hard and we recognise the value of teams socialising together to help provide a healthy work-life balance,” a spokesperson for Links said. “As part of a wider set of guidelines covering social activities, we have recommended to partners, directors and business leaders that they designate a non-drinking role to a senior person to assist the smooth running of our social events.”
Just how blackout drunk are these folks getting that they can’t keep control of their gatherings without a hall monitor? The new policy, which was in place for the firm’s holiday party, brings it in line with the recommendations of the Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division, the gathering of legal Brainy Smurfs who recently “offered up a range of alcohol-free networking alternatives including paint-balling, hat making and mini-golf.” Hat making. Talk about something that will drive people to drink.
The problem with all of these solutions is that while cutting back on alcohol for its own sake may be a worthwhile endeavor, tying it to sexual harassment misses the mark. The partner hitting on the associate may be the drunken expression of misconduct but most likely stems from a pre-existing problem that manifests daily in a million other ways. That more subtle inappropriate behavior is what needs to be stamped out.
If only there were sober chaperones keeping an eye out for misconduct every day at the office. We could call these people “human resources professionals” and take wild steps like having them “believe women” or “empowering them to make changes even if it could impact high revenue generating partners.” I know it sounds crazy!
Maybe we’ll just ban happy hour instead and call it a day.
Linklaters appoints sober supervisors to chaperone boozy social events [Legal Cheek]
Earlier: Biglaw Summer Programs Phasing Out ‘Boozefests’ To Create All-New, Worse Sexual Harassment Opportunities
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.
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