A&O counts the cost of office banter

The holiday season and new year are a favourite time for law firm marketers capitalising on people’s misery. At around this time every year, email inboxes at The Lawyer fill with messages from divorce specialists reminding us that more couples split in January than at any other time – the seventh of the month is expected to be the busiest for divorce filings, in case you’re interested – and offering their musings on the subject.

Another popular method of reminding clients that a law firm is as much a part of Christmas as mince pies and unwanted pets is the office-party guide, where lawyers point out the legal issues lurking at every festive celebration. Pinsent Masons covered things pretty comprehensively in 2010 with its list of pitfalls.

But it is something of surprise to see a magic circle firm getting in on the act – perhaps it is a sign of the shifting sands of the legal market that even the elite have to jostle with the rest in order to keep a public profile and win business. Either way, Allen & Overy has published a report warning that festive season office banter could cost businesses as much as £292bn in tribunal claims.

A&O has even done a bit of leg work for the report, surveying more than 1,000 UK employees about what sort of behaviour they think could lead to a law suit. The firm even has plans to publish further reports on workplace discrimination, looking at workplace bullying and protected characteristics.

Still, A&O has a little way to go before offering divorce vouchers to entice clients.

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