Alcohol has its uses

by Jinryu

Last Friday, we hosted a Continuing Legal Education (“CLE”) event at [the Firm].

One of the speakers at the event had cancelled at the last minute, so I had the opportunity to share a half hour spot with one of my coworkers to do a presentation instead. It was fun. I can’t say I was nervous or anything– I wasn’t– but I did feel a bit self conscious the irony of having a newbie solicitor like myself (who has only been practicing since October 2014) presenting on “Professional Responsibility and Ethics” to a bunch of seasoned lawyers. I was probably not too fussed in part because by the time it was my turn to present, I’d had a fair amount of vodka.

It was good fun though. I think that the way that these events are supposed to be is such that everyone has the chance to share a few glasses afterwards and get to know eachother.

It’s a unique position that we’re in– as a small firm, all the people attending aren’t people who work for us. Rather, they’re other small firms, who, similarly placed in the market, don’t have hundred lawyer rosters. So these things we host– they’re like a party for all those grown ups who used to be the kids who didn’t get picked in gym class. It is, essentially, a conference of outlyers and people who wanted the freedom you could only get by being your own boss.

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I always wonder where does this statistic come from– the one that says that lawyers tend to be alcoholics. It’s not a joke. In Australia, [CM] tells me that it’s one of the general rules of thumb they teach (in the textbook) you if you work in Emergency– if the person showing up in your ED is a lawyer, you first try to rule out his problems against chronic alcoholism.

But it’s obvious that most lawyers in the room know how to drink.

I wonder if there’s something to be said about lawyers being so careful about how they mince words– that when it comes to social scenarios where they’re really not being asked to do any lawyering, perhaps they’re a bit reluctant to just take that hat off? Maybe that’s the point of alcohol to the profession– it’s a way that people switch off. In a social situation, it might be a way to mutually de-escalate everyone’s guard.

In a world of serious adult issues, it is a way of reducing us back to the impulsiveness and honesty of children.

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