Mysterious barrister lifts lid on cocaine-fuelled life at the bar

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By Thomas Connelly on

Courts are apparently full of coke-head lawyers ogling jury members


A mystery barrister has penned tell-all account of life at the bar, revealing it’s a world of drugs, stress and client poaching.

The apparently male barrister — who writes under the pseudonym Russell Winnock — gives an honest, and on occasions brutal account of his experiences as a criminal practitioner in a book entitled “Confessions of a barrister”.

The secretive author, who says that he is 30-something and was called to the Bar in 2002, claims that drugs are rife at the bar — echoing research conducted by Legal Cheek earlier this year that revealed one in five barristers who admitted to taking drugs did so while at work.

Winnock, who says that he’s married with children and practises in the south of England, suggests that while commercial lawyers — with their high salaries — use drugs for recreational purposes, those at the criminal bar use narcotics, such as cocaine, to tackle stress and pre-court nerves.

The book also touches upon the private nature of those working at the bar. Speaking to The Times (£) newspaper yesterday, Winnock said:

What really worries me is that people, as is the culture of the bar, are quite secret about their private lives, and if they have problems many will never admit it because it’s akin to admitting that you’re not very good.

The mystery member of the bar also reveals that with government attacks on legal aid, coupled with an increase in solicitor-advocates, client poaching is rife.

Winnock recalls a time when a female solicitor stole a client from him. The young man, who was on remand, was lured with gifts in the shape of a new pair of trainers and a phone card. He suggests that these underhand tactics are commonplace when thousands of pounds in legal aid is potentially up for grabs.

He continues his often-damning analysis, suggesting court robing rooms are akin to rugby club changing facilities, with male barristers openly discussing which female barrister are “fit” and analysing how attractive particular members of the jury are.

The crime specialist also takes the opportunity to fire a shot at the government’s devastating cuts on legal aid. He argues that criminal barristers earn barely enough to survive during their first five years in practise, meaning the profession is becoming increasingly reserved for those from a well-off background.

Winnock’s motivations for penning his experiences are apparently twofold. He suggests that he not only wants to defend the bar, but also correct an outdated impression, telling The Times:

People need to see us as a profession [in] which ultimately we are providing a service, because without the criminal justice system everything falls apart really.