The vast majority of my clients conduct themselves in a professional manner when we are working together. Then, there are the others, who are anything but professional. My company, Magnus, works with highly skilled attorneys who pay us a handsome amount of money for our consulting services. Usually, they want to take full advantage of our research, involving mock jurors, or arbitrators, or mediators. “Taking full advantage,” for the most part, includes preparing their presentations in advance of the research day, rehearsing them to ensure they fall within the agreed upon time limits, then presenting their case (via what attorneys call arguments) to the people who will be deciding the outcome of their trial, arbitration, or mediation. There have been some of my clients, however, who, for reasons unknown to me, have chosen not to take full advantage of the learning experience for which they have hired my company, instead, deciding to consume alcoholic beverages before and/or during the research day. Sadly, this has happened more than just a few times. On some occasions, the attorney(s) arrive in the morning reeking of alcohol; on other occasions, they drink alcoholic beverages during lunch, which has a negative impact on their presentation afterward; on other occasions, they sneak to the hotel bar, thinking no one will notice; and then there are those attorneys who drink alcoholic beverages the entire time we are working. I am not making this up! Needless to say, the mock jurors are able to tell when the attorney(s) have been drinking: slurred speech, swaying body movements, and of course, the foul smell of booze are dead giveaways every time! The worst experience I had with this problem involved young attorneys who were filling in for their boss, who had an unexpected scheduling conflict and was unable to attend our mock jury research. These attorneys were impaired to the point it was obvious to everyone, including their boss, who called me upon viewing the video of their presentations to ask me what time they started drinking! (Notice I was not asked if they were drinking, only when they began.) As in any profession, there are good and not so good people, however, in any profession, there are guaranteed to be repercussions for such unprofessional behavior as drinking on the job.
I don’t know if there are any jobs for which drinking on the job is appropriate. Maybe wine taster, beer maker, etc., but certainly not anything that requires concentrated effort and attention to detail. And, a mock trial may be a day out of the office and to some, just a play acting exercise, but it is not at all time for a party. Lawyers work hard, many play hard – some truly party hard! But, the party comes after the hard work and often they end the day of a mock trial in the hotel lounge. But, the examples Melissa has mentioned are real and they put us in a very uncomfortable position. We have to be the “grown ups” and deal with paying clients who want to party, not work. In one case, the attorneys imbibed so much after their first argument of the day that they were incapable of making a subsequent case presentation to the mock jurors. Our solution was to play the video of the pre-intoxicated arguments to the 2nd set of mock jurors. With the situation that Melissa mentioned of the mice playing when the boss was away, there was not this opportunity and the boss, who was paying our bill, and his attorneys’ salaries, was not pleased with getting his mock jury results tainted by his drunken employees.