New Zealand Law Society - Culture and conduct unacceptable, says Justice Minister

Culture and conduct unacceptable, says Justice Minister

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Justice Minister Andrew Little has described as "totally unacceptable" the culture and conduct described by Dame Margaret Bazley in her independent review into allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and bullying at Russell McVeagh.

“The culture and conduct described by Dame Margaret Bazley is totally unacceptable and even though this is not a Government report I will be looking closely at all the recommendations. This report highlights the need for improvements in the legal profession,” he says.

“As Justice Minister my specific interest is in the Law Society and whether it has the right powers and capability to respond to claims of wrongful conduct towards employees of law firms.

“I’ve met with many stakeholders including whistle-blowers such as Olivia Wensley and Zoe Lawton about changes that need to occur to ensure a safer environment for women working in the legal profession.

“The Law Society has commissioned their own review of the handling of sexual harassment in the profession and I expect to take up the recommendations of the reviews with the Law Society,” says Andrew Little.

Jan Logie, Under-Secretary for Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues, has also welcomed the review.

“The report shows the problems at Russell McVeagh were wide-ranging and they must take action to address them,” she says.

“It is particularly crucial that New Zealanders can put their trust in the integrity of the legal profession if we are to fully address, and prevent, sexual violence and harassment.

“These problems are not limited to Russell McVeagh, nor to the legal profession. This underscores the magnitude of sexual harassment in New Zealand workplaces, and I am hearing that many employers either don’t know how to respond or put their own business interests ahead of the welfare of people. This is something we need to address as a government and a country."