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04 May 2017 at 10:20 BST

NZ Law Society wants lawyers to state ethnicity to guage diversity

The New Zealand Law Society is now asking all applicants for a practising certificate to state their ethnicity in efforts to gain an accurate picture of lawyer diversity.

Dmitry Pichugin

The Law Society has collected information on ethnicity since 2009, but it has been voluntary and to date almost half – 44 per cent -  of New Zealand’s 12,800 lawyers have not provided information on their ethnicity. Vice-President (North Island) Tiana Epati said that the Law Society believes it is now important to gain an accurate picture of lawyer ethnicity in New Zealand ‘with its challenging cultural mix and the wide range of access to justice issues and other influencers affecting the practice of law’.


Ms Epati says the best information the Law Society holds is from the 2013 Census when 88 per cent of lawyers described themselves as European, seven per cent as Asian, six per cent as Maori and two per cent as Pacific Peoples. That contrasted with findings from the wider public. ‘At the same date 77 per cent of all New Zealanders identifies as European, 11 per cent as Maori, 11 per cent as Asian and five per cent as Pacific Peoples -  a noticeable difference,’ Ms Epati said. While there will be the option to decline to state ethnicity, the Law Society believes the result will be a much richer picture of lawyer ethnicity, she added.

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