A new anti-loitering policy at Starbucks has unexpectedly devastated lawyers who have increasingly relied on the chain of coffee shops to practice law and to trade social media tips. The policy, which went into effect earlier this month, prohibits “professionals who should know better from reserving or occupying seatage in company stores for more than three hours during a single day.”
A Starbucks’ public relations specialist said that the company was unaware of the alleged impact on lawyers, saying the policy is nondiscriminatory in nature and is applied uniformly to “all professionals, whether a lawyer or a social media tribe consultant, or even both at the same time.” Todd A. Staubach, a lawyer and Super Mayor of a Starbucks in downtown Chicago, said that he is now looking at other cofficing options for the near future. “Three hours? Are they kidding? It takes me at least an hour each morning just to catch up on my Twitter feed and to add new Quora questions,” said Staubach while sitting on a sidewalk outside of Starbucks after using up his allotted three hours.
Other lawyers complained that, while they did not bring in a lot of client business while practicing law in Starbucks, the policy would operate to empty many stores during peak business hours. “Well, it really just means that my Foursquare friends will seek out badges elsewhere, like Caribou, or even Cinnabon at North Shore Mall,” said Amy J. Farquhar, a third-year cofficing veteran. “And I mean a lot of my Foursquare friends. The Cinnabon badge just got a whole lot more valuable.”
Some lawyers indicated that they are considering legal action to enjoin the new anti-loitering policy, likening Starbucks to a public park, except being indoors and a private for-profit enterprise with investment-backed expectations. Few experienced lawyers, however, thought such a lawsuit would succeed and advised affected lawyers to “buck up and drink decaf.”