A blog for victims of sexual harassment in the legal profession has been handed over to the NZ Law Society.
Legal researcher Zoe Lawton set up the #Metoo blog to allow men and women in the legal profession to anonymously share their stories.
In the month it was live, 214 posts were published, 190 from women and 24 from men.
The women at the centre of the harassment and bullying held a range of roles from partner level, to senior lawyers to support staff, academics and law students.
The majority of women, 60 per cent, were aged between 18 and 35 and 40 per cent were aged 36 to 65.
“The majority of sexual harassment described in the posts was perpetrated by males in senior roles, such as partners and chief executives of law firms, barristers, and senior lawyers in government agencies that undertake legal work,” Lawton wrote on her blog.
The blog was closed on Friday and handed over to the law society.
However, given the interest it received – about 40,000 views a month – she would keep it online as a resource to be used by the law society, employers and universities.
Lawton told the Herald she wasn’t surprised by the “huge response” to her blog.
“I think the posts on the blog only scratch the surface of this issue – there are far more women out there in the legal industry who have experienced sexual harassment. I’ve received hundreds of emails and messages of support from women, many of whom said they felt unable to provide posts because it would be too upsetting or they were afraid they would be identified and suffer career repercussions.
“I’m sure this is also an issue in other industries.”
The blog listed ways in which people could seek support or make formal complaints regarding sexual harassment or bullying.
“I really hope that senior managers of staff – particularly partners of law firms – sit down and read the blog and then also discuss it with their staff,” she wrote on her blog.
Lawton is one of several guest speakers, along with Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Dr Jackie Blue, to feature at an event tonight held by the Wellington’s NZLS Women in Law Committee and the Wellington Women Lawyers’ Association labelled “Making the law a safe space”.