1 Mar 2018

Law Society working group to tackle sexual harassment reporting

1:58 pm on 1 March 2018

The Law Society is to establish a working group to look at how to improve reporting of sexual harassment in the legal profession.

While 60 percent of law graduates are women, less than 40 percent become partners, according to the Law Society.

Young lawyers should not have to face any harassment without getting proper support, says the Law Society. Photo: 123rf

The move comes after law firm Russell McVeagh put in the spotlight over allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment and an alleged incident of sexual assault.

Law Society president Kathryn Beck told Nine to Noon there was no place for sexual harassment in the profession and it must stop.

Law Society President Kathryn Beck.

Law Society President Kathryn Beck. Photo: Supplied / Law Society

She said it was essential all lawyers worked in an environment free of harassment and the Society wanted to provide practical support for people affected by the issue.

Steps being considered include a national helpline, an online portal and providing more information and practical guidance to lawyers.

Ms Beck said the members of their working group and their terms of reference and time frame would be announced shortly.

"This is one of a number of actions the Law Society is taking to address a matter which impacts on all lawyers and their clients," Ms Beck said.

"The public discussion has been sobering but it has also highlighted matters that we need to resolve so we can be more proactive without re-victimising victims."

She said the review must focus on the culture and underlying assumptions which exist in some law firms and legal workplaces.

"As with the Gender Equality Charter, the change has to come from inside, driven and assisted from outside."

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