Law Society to conduct legal workplace environment survey

It will look into instances of harassment and discrimination in the profession

Law Society to conduct legal workplace environment survey

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa and leading insights company Kantar are working together to launch the legal workplace environment survey 2023. The survey will serve as a follow-up to the one conducted in 2018, revisiting the topics of general wellbeing and harassment while widening the survey’s scope to enquire into discriminatory behaviours.

Five years ago, the New Zealand Law Society commissioned an industry-wide survey to better assess the legal workplace and the safety of lawyers and those working in the legal environment. The society decided to carry out the survey following accounts of sexual harassment in the legal profession in February 2018.

“It was decided that we needed a robust assessment of the workplace environments in which lawyers worked,” said then Law Society general manager Glenda Macdonald. “… [We] wanted the survey to become an important baseline against which we could measure future progress. To ensure we got a representative picture, we invited all practising lawyers to take part regardless of what their experiences had been.”

The Law Society engaged research company Colmar Brunton to conduct the 2018 survey, which covered general wellbeing as well as instances of harassment in the legal workplace.

Results of the Legal Workplace Environment Survey 2018

The 2018 legal workplace environment survey found, among others, that eight in 10 lawyers felt rewarded by their profession and practice. However, workplace stress was also common, with six in 10 lawyers finding their job very stressful and almost three in 10 agreeing that their workplace culture needed major changes.

Eighteen percent of lawyers – 31% of women and 5% of men – said they had been sexually harassed in the legal environment, with one in 10 of these lawyers saying they had been sexually harassed in the last five years to 2018. More than one in four of lawyers admitted they had witnessed sexual harassment take place in the legal workplace.

Fifty-one percent of lawyers also said they had experienced bullying in the legal workplace, with two in 10 saying the bullying had taken place in the last six months.

Scope of the Legal Workplace Environment Survey 2023

The 2023 follow-up survey will revisit the topics of general wellbeing, harassment, and bullying in the workplace and additionally enquire into discriminatory behaviours. This time, the Law Society will conduct the survey in conjunction with leading insights company Kantar.

The survey will open on April 4 and close on May 5, 2023. The Law Society encourages both lawyers and non-lawyers working in a legal setting to participate in the survey, regardless of whether they have experienced any of the behaviours set out in the survey, to get an accurate picture of the legal profession as a whole.

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