California, Internal Memos, Ridiculousness

San Francisco Firm Sends Awesome Officewide ‘Restroom Etiquette’ Email

Above the Law may need to hire a full-time legal bathroom beat reporter.

A few days ago, we learned that Harvard Law School named a bathroom after an alumnus with an, umm, unusual last name.

Last night, we received a tip about the San Francisco branch of a national law firm that delivered an office-wide email concerning “restroom etiquette.” The email is hilarious, and if nothing else, impressively thorough. They thought of everything. The missive covered tips for masking awkward bathroom noises, suggestions for choosing a urinal, and an emphasis on the ways bathroom behavior can affect your professional reputation.

Let’s see which firm has (toilet) water on the brain, and take a look at the memo….

Without further ado, the hygienically minded firm is Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith.

Our highly amused tipster says this sort of email is not uncommon at the office:

It was sent by the head of HR, who believes that every office problem can be resolved by having “office policies.” One of my personal favorites from when I was there was an email titled, “What to do around Christmas time if you get mugged.”

This one tops it though.

It’s a bit too long to post here, so we have the whole email on the next page. All ulterior pageview motives aside, it’s worth reading the whole thing. The last time I saw details this specific about how to behave in a bathroom was when I read Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys (affiliate link) in like seventh grade.

This memo is almost as good.

Here are my two favorite parts:

In urinals, keep your eyes up and ahead and avoid looking around as a mistaken glance in the wrong direction may be embarrassing and might even result in a confrontation. Also, keep as much distance between yourself and others in public restrooms. Always choose the urinal farthest away from other people if possible; this goes for stalls too.


Restroom noises are sometimes hard to avoid and can be embarrassing. Turning on the tap or fan or running the automated hand drier can help mask them.

I have several questions, though. Was someone in HR sitting around, pondering new policies abstractly? Did he/she simply pull this idea — or the mugging one — out of the ether? Or did someone in the office complain about the way people were acting in the bathroom? What were the complaints about? Like, were the bathrooms simply a little bit dirty — a fairly standard issue — and did that turn into this “Bathrooms for Idiots” guide?

Maybe someone was actually complaining to management about “embarrassing” noises, or gentlemen with wandering eyes? Seems unlikely. Because I mean, we are talking about San Francisco here. This isn’t Minnesota. You haven’t really experienced the city until you’ve sat next to a guy in assless chaps on Muni.

Moreover, attorneys tend to be well-dressed, well-mannered (if mildly opinionated), socially intelligent people. If you don’t know how to act like a grown-up in the restroom, firm life seems like an interesting career choice.

So where the heck did this memo come from? Turns out the firm did not even write it. Our intrepid tipster did some research and discovered that the missive actually came from an eHow Style article. Straight-up plagiarism, for the win.

That said, office policies are definitely important. Maybe the firm should have written its own policy, but I’m sure management wants to avoid any bathroom-related litigation. Dealing with a restroom lawsuit would really stink.

The memo is on the next page. And always remember, kids: don’t talk to strangers — especially in the bathroom.

Public Restroom Etiquette [eHow Style]

(hidden for your protection)

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