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Lawyers, Is It Okay to Curse at Work?

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on May 25, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Legal practice is often a high-stress job. There's the trying work hours, the high-stakes outcomes, and the horrible opposing attorneys or trying clients. It's enough to cause an esquire or two to unleash a near-constant stream of unprintable profanities.

Cursing under his breath at court got one attorney publicly reprimanded recently. Meanwhile, a major microbrewery is encouraging its employees to drop more F bombs. Who's got the right approach?

Cursing? No @#$&* Way

Earlier this month, Craig Weintraub was publically admonished for his potty-mouth. Weintraub, a Cleveland defense attorney, was caught in court muttering not-so-nice things about the prosecutor in one of his cases. Weintraub's sotto voce diatribe was at least loud enough that a court marshal overheard it and reported him to the judge, leading to Weintraub's public scolding.

Weintraub apologized, but he wasn't too apologetic:

This process of a contempt proceeding started against me because a deputy who transports criminals from a federal facility to federal court acted as if he was traumatized by hearing curse words. Now, I don't know how inexperienced this guy is, but curse words are commonplace among most criminals and law-enforcement agents and criminal defense attorneys, and, believe it or not, holier-than-thou prosecutors.

Meanwhile, a few hours to the east, the founder and CEO of Sam Adams is encouraging his employees to tell him "f*** you" more often -- except minus the asterisks. CEO Jim Koch says the company has an "F You Rule" that allows any employee to say just that, to any other employee. The point is to encourage open communication by breaking down typical office decorum.

So, Do You Curse at Work?

The ABA Journal, inspired by Weintraub's chastisement, recently asked readers if cursing was common at their workplace. The answers were largely along the lines of "F*** yeah." User Meshugginer wrote that, "To many in the younger generation, everything is [fornicatingly] awesome, or they have a [fertilizer] load of work to do. As among sailors, it's not considered cursing, it's standard usage."

In family law, criminal practice, even intellectual property, attorneys said they let out the occasional expletive. But not everyone was a curser. Two in-house counsel say that cursing in the corporate world is strictly forbidden. Guess they don't work for Sam Adams.

And you?

Do you curse at work?
Hell no.
F- yeah.
Quiz Maker

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