Drunk Employee

| General

Drunk Employee

Events, conferences and get togethers in the legal sphere are commonplace. They are used traditionally by legal professionals to drum up new business through networking, team-building with their respective colleagues and are a useful method to find that important work-life balance. As the old adage goes ‘all work and no play makes a legal professional a dull person’. However, some legal professionals are seemingly prone to taking this advice a little too far, take in slightly too much by way of alcoholic beverages and which inevitably results in them seemingly making an absolute fool of themselves on a night out.

A high profile case hit the legal headlines in mid-June 2022 centring around a post work dinner which had been arranged by a legal firm. A trainee lawyer had made the decision to attend possibly for the reasons outlined in the preceding section of this article. Some of those who attended the work social event then decided to continue with the evening festivities at another night time establishment including the respective trainee lawyer. 

Whilst in attendance at the night time establishment instead of knowing his limits, acting in a professional manner and not consuming excessive amounts of alcohol the trainee did the polar opposite. He drank far too much by way of alcoholic beverages, began behaving aggressively and started sexually harassing female colleagues who were present in the vicinity of the nightclub and in close proximity of his person. The extent of his behaviour was seemingly so unprofessional that he began approaching female colleagues who were engaged in other conversations not involving the trainee, touched them inappropriately, without their consent and inexplicably attempted to physically drag them by their arms, waist and hips. One of the trainee lawyer’s female colleagues in receipt of his behaviour objected to this sexually harassing behaviour. She communicated with him in no uncertain terms and asking him to stop his behaviour forthwith. In fact the trainee lawyer was so intoxicated by the alcohol he had consumed that he apparently could not remember any of the events which had taken place whilst he was on the night out.

After the incident the trainee lawyer was investigated by his firm, given a dressing down and was informed that his behaviour was taken so seriously by the firm that his employment would be terminated forthwith. However, losing his job was not the end of events for the now former trainee lawyer. He then found himself at the mercy of the Solicitors Regulation Authority which handed down a £2,000 fine and ordered him to pay £600 in cost. This was in an effort to maintain the confidence of the public in the legal profession. 

To the trainee’s credit he showed a large dose of regret for his actions and expressed feelings of shame. He produced references of previous good character and claimed that his action were out of character. He remorsefully realised that his actions were not appropriate, unprofessional and that his behaviour was incorrect.

Lessons Learned For Experienced and Aspiring Lawyers

Lawyers of all levels should be reading this case with great interest and cross referencing it with the guidance issued by the Solicitors Regulation Authority on the standards of behaviour expected at Christmas parties, events and functions. Whilst a work life balance is importance they should recognise the importance of the word ‘balance’. They should:

  • know their limits in terms of alcohol consumption
  • remain professional and 
  • not resort to behaviour of this nature towards colleagues.

 If legal professionals take this advice on board it will significantly reduce the risk of events like this taking place and it will lower the probability of finding themselves in the dreaded position of having to be called to account by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. 


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[SOURCE 1] Hyde, John – Drunk Trainee fined for fondling colleagues at Christmas party – Law Society Gazette - 15 June 2022 - Drunk trainee fined for fondling colleagues at Christmas party | News | Law Gazette

[SOURCE 2] Solicitors Regulation Authority – Decision – 15 June 2022 - SRA | Conway, Oliver - 663006 | Solicitors Regulation Authority

[SOURCE 3] Principle 2 of the Solicitors Regulation Authority Principles

[SOURCE 4] Principle 5 of the Solicitors Regulation Authority Principles 

[SOURCE 5] Rule 4.1 Regulatory and Disciplinary Procedure Rules




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