Any form of sexual harassment unacceptable – Law Society

The body is unable to confirm whether or not a complaint has been made regarding recent headline-grabbing allegations

Any form of sexual harassment unacceptable – Law Society

The New Zealand Society has reiterated that sexual harassment is intolerable in the nation’s legal industry.

Kathryn Beck, the Law Society’s president, said that the purposes of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 are to maintain public confidence in the provision of legal services, to protect consumers of legal services, and to recognise the status of the legal profession.

“While the act focuses on the work lawyers or law firms carry out, it also makes it clear that it covers conduct which is unconnected with the provision of regulated services but which would justify a finding that the lawyer is not a fit and proper person or is otherwise unsuited to engage in practice as a lawyer,” she said.

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The comment comes after Russell McVeagh confirmed that it received serious allegations of sexual misconduct more than two years ago. In its first and only statement in reaction to a report that said two female student law clerks complained about two older male lawyers, who have both since left the firm, the firm said that it conducted  a full investigation.

The firm also said that any such behaviour is totally unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. It said it has also been working closely with other firms and the country’s universities to improve student law clerk programs.

The Law Society said that while it will investigate all complaints received, the law forbids it to disclose any information on particular complaints or investigations.

“If a complaint is not received, speaking generally, if sufficient evidence or information is received about the conduct of a lawyer which indicates they may have engaged in misconduct or unsatisfactory conduct, that is a matter which can be referred to a standards committee to decide whether to commence an investigation of its own motion,” Beck said. “However, the provisions of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 mean we are unable to comment on specific matters or cases.”


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