New Zealand's lawyers should make 2019 a year of commitment to civility, caring and connection, New Zealand Law Society President Kathryn Beck says.
Writing in the February issue of the Law Society's magazine LawTalk, Ms Beck says becoming a lawyer is hard work, and practising law is also hard.
"A lot of personal commitment is needed. I would like 2019 to be a year where we enjoy our work as lawyers, where we celebrate our success - and where we are proud of who we are and what we do," she says.
"Let us make this a year where we explicitly value ourselves and our colleagues, and where we connect with each other.
"As a profession we make a difference for others through our skills and our understanding of what is needed. Let's do it for our legal community as well. We can build on the enormous satisfaction that can be obtained from doing our jobs well."
Ms Beck says lawyers have a common purpose, wherever they live, whatever type of law they practise, and however long they have been practising.
"When we interact with other lawyers it's not hard to ask ourselves if we are recognising our similarities. Let's make this a year of commitment to civility, caring and connection. We are thinkers; let's be thoughtful and respectful of different views and opinions. We will persuade most effectively through discussion, not name calling."
Environment has changed dramatically
Looking back over 2018, Ms Beck says, there is obviously one theme that stands out: the focus on and exploration of sexual harassment and bullying behaviour in legal workplaces.
"However you see the role of the New Zealand Law Society in this, the environment in which our profession operates has changed dramatically.
"Progress thrives on positivity. Yes, we can be critical of what has happened. But to move onwards requires a unified commitment to change. We are learning how to work and to regulate in this more open environment. We will do this. The Culture Change Taskforce will spend much of this year consulting and establishing a clear pathway forwards.
"The Law Society is now working on what is needed to implement all the recommendations for change made by the Dame Silvia Cartwright-led regulatory working group at the end of 2018. We will succeed, but it needs us all to accept the need for change and the need to contribute in a positive and collaborative way to building an inclusive, resilient, safe and respectful environment in which we deliver legal services to all."