New Zealand Law Society - Barristers call for change in legal profession

Barristers call for change in legal profession

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The New Zealand Bar Association says Dame Margaret Bazley's review of Russell McVeagh has clear sign-posts for the need for a change in culture and behaviour across the whole of the legal profession.

"The immediate challenge for the Bar Association will be to translate the Bazley recommendations, which can relate immediately and directly to large law firms, into smaller office/chambers environments where most of the country's barristers work," NZBA President Clive Elliott QC says.

"It is important that the thoroughness and intent of the Bazley recommendations can in some way be applied across the whole of New Zealand's legal profession, including the independent Bar.

"We know this is a profession-wide problem, as demonstrated in Australia, where regulatory bodies in New South Wales and Victoria have recently announced investigation into sexual harassment within the legal profession in those jurisdictions."

The New Zealand Bar Association says it will continue to push for the implementation of codes of conduct in all legal profession workplaces, regardless of size. It has prepared a Conduct and Values Policy for barristers to implement in their workplaces. The policy sets out definitions of discrimination and harassment and suggests avenues for complaint and support.

"The NZBA wishes to acknowledge everyone who has come forward to make complaints about workplace behaviour and to anyone who may do so in the future.  It also believes the reporting of this type of behaviour is the responsibility of all of those who witness it, not just the victims."