Russell McVeagh have appointed Dame Margaret Bazley to lead the external review of the firm in the wake of the sexual harassment scandal that has surrounded the firm in recent weeks.
The announcement of Dame Margaret’s appointment was made today by the firm’s chair, Malcolm Crotty.
She is also to be assisted by an as-yet unnamed woman lawyer, Mr Crotty said in a release from Russell McVeagh today.
Dame Margaret Bazley is best known to lawyers for her legal aid investigation in 2009 in ‘car boot lawyers’ profiting from the then legal aid funding arrangements.
She also headed the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct in 2007, was a member of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance and reviewed the Legal Aid system in 2009 as well as being Reviewer of process, protocols and procedures the Wellington Rugby Football Union had in place with regard to player recruitment and the management and monitoring of player behaviour in 2016.
She was also a member of the Waitangi Tribunal for ten years. She was Chair of the appointed Commissioners at Environment Canterbury from 2011-2016.
The Russell McVeagh release quoted Pip Greenwood, a senior partner at the firm, who said “We recognise that the incidents of sexual harassment that have occurred at our firm have had a profound effect on the women involved and we are all truly sorry and horrified that they occurred. We are committed to ensuring that such incidents do not happen again. We are extremely grateful to Dame Margaret for agreeing to conduct this review. We have been conscious, in making this appointment, to appoint a person who is truly independent as well as who has experience in such work.”
“‘The women who have been subjected to any form of sexual harassment want to be assured that the review will be thorough. Our current staff and partners want that as well. We think that Dame Margaret’s significant review into police conduct and culture resulting from the Louise Nicholas case will provide that assurance,” said Malcolm Crotty, Chair of Russell McVeagh.
The scope of the external review is attached and includes actions taken with respect to the incidents of 2015/2016 and any other incidents that may come to light during the conduct of the review, culture in both offices, current management practices and policies relating to the prevention of sexual harassment, and supporting complainants.
After the incidents of 2015/16 we have conducted internal enquiries to identify any other incidents of misconduct or inappropriate behaviour over the past decade.
Dame Margaret will have full access to material and any staff who wish to participate. Former staff and summer clerks will also be invited to take part and she will commence her review immediately. If anyone wishes to participate they should phone 0800 779 779 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Russell McVeagh confirms that the report from the external review will be made available to its key stakeholders including staff, clients, the NZ Law Society and University Law Schools.