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Australia Agonising Over the Problem of Cocaine Use by Lawyers

yers used amphetamines at night and then used tranquillisers to bring themselves down before they appeared in court in the morning.

He put the drug use down to wealth: "We earn extraordinary amounts of money. It's not just lawyers, it's investment bankers and the corporate world, senior management and advertising. It's part of the culture of having whatever you want and having a good time. We are intellectual enough to be able to think about risks and we are able to afford to get the pure stuff."

The former wife of one barrister, who believes her marriage broke up several years ago because of his cocaine use, said it was partly about narcissism: "(You have) young men earning huge sums of money, top-shelf wine, top-shelf addresses and top-shelf coke; men with egos already in outer space."

She said the arrogance of the "barrister funster league" was astonishing: they worked within the law but felt free to break it. Cocaine use in the law hit the headlines with the jailing in 2001 of Melbourne lawyer Andrew Fraser for possession and trafficking. In 2004, The Australian Financial Review reported that Fraser had been a member of the "Negroni Commission" (named after the cocktail), a fast-moving social group of about 20 people, mostly lawyers, who had Friday lunches involving cocaine and callgirls.

Fraser himself had warned at that time about the widespread use of drugs in the profession. He was eventually jailed for five years by the Victorian County Court after pleading guilty to charges of drug trafficking, possession and being knowingly concerned in the importation of 5.5 kilograms of cocaine.

Before he became addicted to cocaine, Fraser had been one of Victoria's best-connected lawyers. He spoke at the second wedding of top silk Julian Burnside and also attended his 50th birthday party. But that all ended when Fraser developed a drug habit that finished up costing him as much as $1000 a day. And he is not th
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