The New Zealand Law Society fully supports the appointment of Kathryn Beck to lead the Culture Change Taskforce.
The Taskforce’s objective is to drive and guide systems and culture change within the legal community. The 16 members have been appointed for an initial three-year term. It met for the first time last week. The Minister of Justice dropped in to the first meeting of the Taskforce to offer his support and encouragement for its important work, saying their work was vital to the future of the profession.
There has been criticism of Ms Beck’s appointment following the announcement of the Taskforce membership. The Law Society acknowledges the right of those critics to share their opinions. However, it is certain that Ms Beck is the right person to lead this important initiative, which will produce practical and enduring solutions to address the major cultural issues within the legal community.
Kathryn Beck has provided strong leadership for the profession in a time when it has been subject to internal and external scrutiny over its culture and direction. She has engaged with a very wide range of organisations and individuals throughout the country over 2018 in her quest for change. From addressing the law students at each law school to regular meetings with lawyer and community groups, government agencies and the Minister of Justice, Ms Beck has been a tireless advocate and spokesperson for the Law Society’s determination to build a healthy, safe, respectful and inclusive culture across the legal community.
Ms Beck has impressive past experience in her work as an employment lawyer in tackling organisational and cultural change. She has chaired NZ Rugby’s Respect and Responsibility review panel and, currently, the Advisory Panel. As a mediator and facilitator she has conducted independent investigations for large companies, charitable institutions, trust boards, tertiary institutions and government departments.
The Law Society asks that the Taskforce be measured by the actions it takes and that it be given the opportunity to begin its vital work. It will need the support and collaboration of the entire legal community to change the culture of our legal workplaces. Now is the time for us to all work together.