Long hours and stress drive lawyers to drink and drugs from The Times October 6, 2008

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A culture of long hours and stress are driving increasing numbers of lawyers to drink and drugs, both within and outside the workplace.

A survey to be published this week shows that alcohol abuse is “endemic” and use of hard drugs such as cocaine is becoming more prevalent, particularly in big City law firms.

The survey, by the magazine Legal Business, also says that there is evidence of “cocaine clubs” in law firms’ basements and of partner-led games of poker and taking cocaine with clients. But it also finds that law firms are ignorant or indifferent to the problem. One lawyer is quoted: “I spanked £100,000 on cocaine in one year and no one noticed.

“The legal profession, unlike other classic professions such as medicine and teaching, does not give a damn, as long as you are profitable.”

Two thirds of the 100 firms surveyed about their policies on drug or drink abuse refused to answer some of the questions, he said. Only half had a formal drug or alcohol policy, and 9 per cent had taken action against an employee for being under the influence of drink or drugs.

The survey also found that 84 per cent of firms do not have a random drug-testing policy, with 16 per cent refusing to answer the question.

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