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Black/Latte Law

Published on: 11 Apr 2021

It’s one of the age-old questions of firm life. Can you tell a lawyer’s style by the coffee they drink? We decided to settle the matter once and for all by asking a panel of Scientists. Unfortunately they were busy, so we asked our mates instead.

Nevertheless, the results are a major contribution to legal psychology. Cut out and keep this handy primer, and use it to get the measure of your colleagues next time they’re barking out their order to some poor subordinate in a meeting.

Black Coffee. Lawyers who take their coffee black are incredibly direct. They mean everything they say and don’t care about the impact on your feelings. Get into an argument with a black coffee drinker and she’ll spit out her words with all the aggression of Chuck Norris overcoming constipation. Most likely to work in: Litigation.

Decaffeinated. Relationships with decaff lawyers are always predictable – there’s no great light and shade here – and their advice is usually deeply risk averse. They’ll rarely make an actual recommendation, and when they do it won’t be in writing. Decaffs only make partner when someone decides the firm ‘needs a little more stability in its leadership.’ Property.

Double Shot Espresso. Unreliable, with occasional bursts of inspiration interspersed with long hours spent wearily staring at a screen. Likely to be workaholic – putting in long hours, waiting for inspiration to strike – and addictive. (Often, you’ll find them skulking outside the back of the office with a roll-up.) Their client relationships begin famously, then quickly collapse after some bitter argument about billing inconsistencies. Corporate.

Latte. Lawyers who need reassurance. Usually found somewhere in the middle of a team, being neither too pushy nor too backward. Lattes are the first to organise birthday cards and leaving parties. Latte-associates are often preyed upon by espresso-partners: the partners manipulate the associates by offering occasional bursts of emotional support. Lattes either go home early to watch soaps with their pets, or go out every night to pursue ill-advised affairs with senior colleagues. Employment.

Cappuccino. Look good and talk a good game, but Caps are always found wanting when it comes to detail. Always first in line when it comes to attending – and speaking at length at – conferences, but not good at sharing reports afterwards. Secretly aspire to be mentioned on Roll On Friday. One can always tell a Cap by the self-regarding expression on their web site photograph. Media, natch.

Anything with Soy. Soys love themselves more than their jobs. Always opinionated, but rarely on any useful subject. Soys frequently send emails, but usually to invite you to sponsor them on a marathon they’re running in aid of Nepalese monitor lizards. Pensions.

White coffee/Filter/Americano. Lawyers of any hue, probably over forty and struggling to adapt to the complications of twenty-first century life.

Frappuccino. Never invite a Frappuccino-drinking lawyer to a snap meeting at which they’ll have to think on their feet: these drinks, with their considerable proportions of caffeine, sugar and ice, are really hangover cures.