Advice column: I have taken the decision not to drink alcohol, but am coming under pressure to do so at social and client events

Dear Ash

I have taken the decision not to drink alcohol for mainly health reasons, but I am finding that some of my senior colleagues seem to take issue with this and have made it known to me, on a one to one basis, that they find it a bit odd that I have taken this decision. One of the partners even recently suggested that I would not be able to understand or relate to my clients if I was not able to drink at the next client social event! I am not really able to understand why my choosing not to drink is causing such an issue as I am quite an outgoing and sociable person and have never felt the need to drink in order to socialise. I am also very good at my job and I meet my targets whilst maintaining the respect of clients. I want to be able to progress at my firm but I don’t want to have to sacrifice my principles or choices in the process!

Ash replies

Choosing not to drink alcohol is entirely your decision to make. Unfortunately, or fortunately as some may view it, the consumption of alcohol seems somehow particularly embedded within Scottish culture and is seen as a must at times when socialising. I too sometimes have had to endure pressure from peers to take a drink, sometimes akin to the persistence employed by the character Mrs Doyle in Father Ted to take a drink – “Go on go on go on go on” – as some are just not happy to accept No for an answer.

Whether you choose to drink or not is a decision for you to take. If you were pressurised, for example, in a situation to take a cigarette by other smokers, I’m sure you would probably not even hesitate in refusing, nor I suspect would anyone even think of pressurising you into taking a smoke just to please clients.

There is a degree of flexibility which you inevitably need to deploy at times in any career, but in this particular instance you are taking a decision for health reasons and you should not feel bad about sticking to your guns. The partners at the end of the day should be able to appreciate your value and contribution to the firm without evaluating the situation merely through beer goggles!

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor:, or mail to Studio 2001, Mile End, Paisley PA1 1JS. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162 or by email: 

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