Legal profession’s current sexual harassment complaint process can ‘re-victimise’ complainants, says Law Society

“Under-reporting” of sexual harassment is a problem in the New Zealand legal profession according to the Law Society as it launches a working group to conduct a national survey on how to make it easier for victims to come forward.

The Law Society’s working group comes after recent allegations from female interns at Russell McVeagh’s Wellington law firm.

Law Society President Kathryn Beck says they’re going to conduct a national survey to understand the scope of the problem.
Source: Breakfast

“We’ve got a problem, and part of the problem is under reporting,” Law Society president Kathryn Beck told TVNZ1’s Breakfast today.

Ideally law firms would be safe environments where if something goes wrong people are not afraid to come forward and complaints are investigated, Ms Beck says.

Some employees at Russell McVeagh were accused of inappropriate behaviour towards two student interns two years ago.
Source: 1 NEWS

“People are telling us they don’t want to complain because of how the whole process works, it re-victimises them, it’s not confidential and they’re concerned about the consequences of that,” she says.

Ms Beck says the Law Society is looking at taking action as soon as possible including creating a portal on their website where people can raise sensitive complaints.

She says the national survey will be conducted to understand the scope of the problem.

“There’s a lot to be done but there’s also a lot we can do to make immediate improvements,” she says.

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