The Taskforce is one of the Law Society’s initiatives in response to its legal workplace environment survey which was released in late May, and to meet its commitment to ‘drive and guide systems and culture change within the legal community.'
The survey showed nearly one in three female lawyers has suffered sexual harassment at work and more than half of all lawyers have been bullied in the workplace. New Zealand Law Society President Kathryn Beck, who is chairing the Taskforce, said ‘I feel a huge personal disappointment as to what has occurred in the legal profession and I’m personally committed to leading the change required. My term as President ends early next year and chairing this Taskforce will assist with continuity and enable me to see this critically important issue through.’ Ms Beck says she had been delighted with the level of interest in the voluntary Taskforce positions, with more than 80 applications received.
The Taskforce comprises 14 members of the legal profession from across the country representing a range of experience and fields of law. It also contains two non-lawyers, including a legal executive and a practice manager. Ns beck explained, ‘the quality of the Taskforce members gives me great confidence that the cultural change we are committed to in our legal community is within our grasp. We can and will achieve the building of a culture within the legal profession that is healthy, safe, respectful and inclusive and which we can all be proud of,’ She added, ‘I’m pleased that as we get into action as a Taskforce, most of the legal profession is also in action in leading change at a workplace and personal level.’ The Taskforce has been established for an initial term of three years and will deliver an initial draft strategy and action plan to the Law Society by 30 November 2019.