New Zealand Law Society - Do not be a bystander, says Law Society Vice-President

Do not be a bystander, says Law Society Vice-President

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Change is required in the legal profession to stop sexual and other harassment and this must be supported by all men and women in the profession, New Zealand Law Society Vice-President, Auckland, Tim Jones says.

Photo of Tim Jones
Tim Jones. 

Writing in the latest issue of the Law Society's magazine LawTalk, Mr Jones says the change has to come from the inside and is the responsibility of all: "Do not be a bystander."

Referencing the unprecedented media attention and the criticism that has followed, Mr Jones says much of it has not shown the legal profession in a good light.

"As a practitioner of over 35 years I have found the recent revelations to be deeply disappointing and unacceptable. I am so sorry that these women have had these things happen to them.

"This issue cannot be ignored any longer. It has to stop. It is not an overreaction to say this may be a watershed moment. Change is required and is inevitable."

Mr Jones says that as a profession lawyers have to focus on the future and what they can do now to make the practice of law safe and rewarding for everyone.

"A workplace culture free of sexual harassment and any form of bullying is a standard that women and men are entitled to expect, full stop."

Noting that the Law Society has announced a number of actions to help address the issues, Mr Jones says it was also no surprise on International Women's Day in February that there were more women practising law than men.

"Yet women lawyers achieving senior positions in the legal profession remains woefully unbalanced and many women leave the profession altogether.

"[In April] the Law Society will launch its Gender Equality Charter. It is separate to the work that is being done in relation to harassment, but it is equally as important. It asks that workplaces where law is practised make a commitment to a raft of initiatives that will over time lead to more women achieving senior positions and staying.

"We are hopeful that this is a turning point for the profession and that good will come from recent events. The success or otherwise is going to be up to you and me and us having the courage to speak out when things are not right. This is the only way we can effect real and lasting change. As I said above - do not be a bystander."