Russell McVeagh report a 'window dressing' - former lawyer

Drive 05/07/2018

The review into allegations of sexual harassment at prestigious law firm Russell McVeagh is out and it is very upfront about the behaviour that occured there.

Dame Margaret Bazley’s independent investigations followed revelations that summer interns at the firm were allegedly sexual harassed or assaulted in 2015/2016.

Dame Margaret also found evidence of bullying and excessive work hours in the firm.

"No one was in charge in the Wellington office, the team within which incidents occurred was out of control," the review chaired by Dame Margaret Bazley found.

Russell McVeagh had a "work hard, play hard" culture with excessive drinking, and crude, drunken, sexually inappropriate behaviour. Junior lawyers and other young staff were encouraged to drink to excess.

But the report does not go far enough, says one former lawyer, who is calling for more investigation into alleged criminal activity, including rape.

Olivia Wensley is a former lawyer who’s spoken out about her own experiences of sexual harassment and she spoke with Ryan Bridge and Lisa Owen on RadioLIVE Drive.

At the firm 30 percent of partners are women, and the review found many talented women left the firm rather than progressing to partnership level.

"I was surprised to hear of pockets of bullying, poor work management practices resulting in excessive work hours for junior lawyers, and fear... about the potential consequences of speaking out," Dame Margaret said.

Listen to the full interview with Olivia Wensley above.

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