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This Awkward Bathroom Etiquette Email Should Make You Proud Not To Be a Lawyer

a row of urinals in white tile bathroom

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading your tips over the years, it’s that no email is too annoying, tedious, overdramatic or just plain unnecessary. But when I read this story over at our former sister site Above the Law, I thought it would be nice to share with you all. Frankly I’m shocked public accounting hasn’t scooped the lawyers on awkward bathroom etiquette emails and am kind of disappointed by that fact. That said, if you have been holding on to any truly unnecessary memos waiting for the right moment to drop them on the GC faithful, now is the time.

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.

Because ATL is sensitive to the needs of its readers and realizes billable hours aren’t free, they included only the very best (read: most awkward) parts:

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.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to sit there for at least half an hour trying to puzzle out how someone is supposed to run the hand dryer (and yes, it is hand DRYER, I Googled it to be sure) and take a dump at the same time given the fact that the toilet is usually in the stall and the hand dryer is not but hey, maybe there is some awesome private bathroom action going on over there at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith that I am not aware of.

The funny thing is that this came from a San Francisco firm, seeing as how anyone from San Francisco can tell you it is native custom not to look anyone in the eye, much less in the bathroom (unless it is the bathroom at Moby Dick in the Castro ifyoufeelme), and that many San Franciscans prefer using the street as a toilet. I also appreciate the use of “confrontation” in this context as it made me think about a gaggle of lawyers brawling in the can with their pants around their ankles. Ah, good times.

The full email may be found from ATL here. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, unless you are a public accounting grunt in charge of sending out annoying etiquette emails to slob staff in your office, in which case I implore you not to read it lest you get any wacky ideas about sending out your own. But hey, if you do, do me a favor and BCC a girl.