I get that the legal profession has a drinking problem, if you will, but today we have an example of how a law school should not go about keeping young, would-be lawyers off the bottle.

Imagine you are a 1L. You just finished your first set of finals of your first year of law school, and so you decide to party a little bit. So you knock back a few beers on campus before heading out to whatever bar you are going to. It’s a time to celebrate, it’s a time to let your hair down. Maybe you get a little bit more drunk than you intended, maybe you have a beer (gasp) outside, but whatever — finals are done!

Did I say anything “unacceptable” above?

If you think that there’s no harm in the foregoing scenario, then boy do I have a law school for you to avoid. Apparently the administration at one law school was so freaked out by drinking on campus after first semester finals that the assistant dean of students felt compelled to send around an entire email reminding students of the school’s alcohol policy (reprinted in full below). We’re just getting this email now — it appears students wanted to be away for the summer before slamming their administration — but its existence is still shocking.

Somebody should ask Franklin Roosevelt if it makes sense to have draconian anti-alcohol policies during a recessionary environment…

When I read the opening paragraph of this email to 1Ls, I thought that it must come from a law school in Utah or something — one of those universities with a ridiculously stringent moral code. Either that or the opening was a complete joke. I mean, doesn’t this come off as faux hysteria?

Class of 2013,

Unfortunately, after the joy of completing your last final, things were marred by the Administration’s discovery of beer bottles and cans in the 1L locker room and actual sightings of students with Jameson’s Irish Whiskey and Knob Creek bourbon in the Law School. Such conduct is unacceptable and is in violation of the University’s Student Code of Conduct.

Nooo, not the KNOB CREEK! Only discerning palettes appreciate such spirits.

This sounds like a joke, right? But it’s not. And it’s not coming out of some super-Christian law school in the middle of the country. That was the opening to an email Northeastern Law 1Ls received after first semester finals. Northeastern! That’s in Boston. Freaking out about kids in Boston drinking Jameson’s is like freaking out about, well it’s like freaking out about a lawyer having a scotch. It’s just gonna happen.

In any event, the assistant dean lays out Northeastern’s alcohol policy (essentially, don’t drink on campus, except in your own dorm room), and outlines the sanctions that can be imposed upon students for violating the policy, and then closes with this bit of reactive tripe:

The Deans are disappointed by the poor judgment and irresponsible behavior of a few. If anyone is ever charged with violating the University Code of Conduct and found responsible, such charge and finding must be reported to the State Boards of Bar Examiners when applying to take the Bar Examination. University disciplinary action can get in the way of someone being able to practice law. You should also be aware that substance abuse is serious issue in the legal profession. Due to the stressful nature of law practice, too many lawyers and judges get into trouble with alcohol and/or drugs. Misuse can begin as undergraduates and/or while in law school. As you can imagine, the administration is very concerned.

Christ monkeys, is Northeastern Law run by Eliot Ness? Don’t Northeastern administrators have better things to do than go about narcing on students who grab a post-exam beer in the lobby?

Oh, and if you are very concerned about your students developing long-term substance abuse problems, I think offering counseling and help is going to be a lot more effective than threatening to tattletale on them with the Character & Fitness committee.

NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW — MEMORANDUM — DEANS’ MESSAGE

Class of 2013,

Unfortunately, after the joy of completing your last final, things were marred by the Administration’s discovery of beer bottles and cans in the 1L locker room and actual sightings of students with Jameson’s Irish Whiskey and Knob Creek bourbon in the Law School. Such conduct is unacceptable and is in violation of the University’s Student Code of Conduct. The Code states, in part,

5. Possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages in locations or under conditions
prohibited by University policy or by law. (level III)
b. An individual twenty-one years of age or older may possess and/or consume
alcohol only in his or her residence hall room or in the residence hall room of
another resident who is twenty-one years of age or older, provided alcohol
is permitted in that residence hall for students of legal age.
d. Prohibited locations include, but are not limited to: University hallways, lobbies,
lounges, stairwells, classrooms, studios, technical facilities, auditoriums, bathrooms,
outdoor areas, vehicles, or any other public areas without authorization.
8. Distribution, sale, or manufacture of alcohol.* (level I)
b. The sale or distribution of alcohol without a liquor license, including, but not limited
to, the sale of cups and/or any other form of container for the distribution of alcohol,
even to one person.

Minimum Sanction Guidelines for Violating the Alcohol Policy
1st violation: Disciplinary probation
Mandatory completion of an alcohol education program
Fine of $100

2nd violation: Deferred suspension from the University
Mandatory attendance at alcohol/other drug education program
Fine of $200

3rd violation: Suspension from the University
Mandatory alcohol counseling to be completed off campus
Permanent notation to student transcript

*Distribution or sale of alcohol could result in a sanction of at least suspension from
the University.

The prescribed sanctions set forth above may be enhanced if the circumstances
involved in the incident are deemed serious in nature (i.e., resulting in a threat to the
health or safety of self or others in the University community).

The Deans are disappointed by the poor judgment and irresponsible behavior of a few. If anyone is ever charged with violating the University Code of Conduct and found responsible, such charge and finding must be reported to the State Boards of Bar Examiners when applying to take the Bar Examination. University disciplinary action can get in the way of someone being able to practice law. You should also be aware that substance abuse is serious issue in the legal profession. Due to the stressful nature of law practice, too many lawyers and judges get into trouble with alcohol and/or drugs. Misuse can begin as undergraduates and/or while in law school. As you can imagine, the administration is very concerned.

Northeastern University School of Law
400 Huntington Avenue — 56 Cargill Hall
Boston, Massachusetts 02115


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