Chapman Tripp responds to latest inappropriate behaviour claim

The incident is alleged to have occurred in 2012 – but the firm only became aware of it last week

Chapman Tripp responds to latest inappropriate behaviour claim

Chapman Tripp has responded to the latest inappropriate behaviour claim to hit a top New Zealand law firm. Andrew Woods, the firm’s chair, has confirmed with Australian Lawyer that it is investigating the matter.

Chapman Tripp only became aware of the alleged incident last week, the senior executive said. It was not raised with them by the university involved, its law student society, or anyone who attended the camp.

In a New Zealand Herald story published today, a woman told the publication that a Chapman Tripp lawyer had sex with an Auckland University law student during the Law Students’ Society annual law camp in 2012.

The alleged incident with the 19-year-old female law student involved a “massive power imbalance,” the unnamed source said.

Here is the full statement from Woods:

“We became aware last week that one of our junior lawyers may have had personal relations with someone on the 2012 law camp.

“We have investigated, although our obligations as an employer mean we can’t discuss details of the people involved or the matter.  What I do want to make clear is that any such behaviour would not be appropriate and we would not condone it.

“The firm did not know of this matter in 2012 and it has never been raised with us by the University, the Law Student Society or anyone who attended the camp.

“In 2010, 2011 and 2012 we provided some financial support to the Auckland University Law Students’ Society law camps.  The reason we ceased our sponsorship in 2012 was not related.

“If we are made aware of any past incident of inappropriate behaviour or new information that we didn’t know about at the time, we will look into the matter and take appropriate action.  We encourage anyone with any concerns to raise them with us. Everyone at the firm is now very clear about our expected standards and the consequences of not maintaining the standards we set.”

The claim against Chapman Tripp comes after allegations have continued to rock fellow leading firm Russell McVeagh, which has announced a firm-wide external review. Dame Margaret Bazley has been appointed to oversee the review.

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