A common calendar entry of many lawyers and other professionals is ‘Drinks with [X]’.

However, there are growing concerns about the effect of alcohol consumption on our profession.

Our Booze Culture campaign aims to raise awareness of these issues and suggest alternative approaches for our work and social lives.

It’s worth flagging early that we are not trying to stop individuals drinking alcohol altogether. We’re trying to promote insight and choice and create a healthier, more inclusive approach to work-related activities.

Some of the key areas where alcohol can have a negative impact include:

  • Mental and physical health – statistics from the City of London’s Business Healthy 2017 initiative highlighted that harmful drinking is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15-49-year-olds in the UK
  • Bullying and harassment – a recent study from the International Bar Association shows that many incidents of bullying and harassment at work involve alcohol
  • Diversity and inclusion – many people can be excluded from alcohol related events for a variety of reasons including health, religion and personal choice
  • Productivity – it’s estimated that 3%-5% of all absences – up to 17 million working days – are lost each year due to alcohol, costing the economy more than £7.3bn

We’ve received lots of feedback from organisations and individuals who want to host internal and external events that do not focus on alcohol but do not know what to do.

As a result, we’ve compiled various tried and tested alternatives. Do let us know if you have any to add to the list.

We’re currently working on best practice guidance for employers on how to approach alcohol in the workplace and this will be published in early 2020.

In the meantime, we’ve created a series of podcasts and written articles to raise awareness of this important issue.

Podcasts

Episode one: Calling time on booze culture with Laura Willoughby MBE (Club Soda) and Kieran Pender (IBA)

Episode two: Modern approaches to alcohol at work with Zoe Swan (Brighton University) and Rui Liu (Grass People Tree)

Articles

Calling time on our booze culture– Law Society Gazette (May 2019)

How are we calling time on booze culture? – Solicitors Journal (November 2019) 

Alternatives to alcohol

Below are some alternatives that members have recommended. Please be mindful of those with visible and invisible disabilities when organising any event:

  • Sports requiring minimal exertion – mini golf, boules, bowling, go-karting, darts, ping pong
  • Sports requiring more exertion – rounders, mixed football, touch rugby, mixed netball
  • Guided tours – including museums and galleries
  • Treasure hunt
  • Arts and crafts – including hat making, drawing, sculpting and painting classes
  • Tea ceremonies
  • Food tasting and/or making – including chocolate, cheese, pizza or cake decorating
  • Magic trick masterclass
  • Volunteering – such as helping out at your local homeless shelter or foodbank
  • Escape rooms
  • Seminars
  • Speed networking
  • Quizzes

If you have any other suggestions, let us know and we’ll add them to our list.

Other resources

Alcohol Change UK

Alcoholics Anonymous

Club Soda has a guide of no and low alcohol venues

DrinkAware

LawCare

Mind

Solicitors Benevolent Association