The New Zealand Law Society is unable to confirm whether or not a complaint has been made related to the allegations of sexual misconduct towards students in a summer law clerk programme at Russell McVeagh.
Law Society President Kathryn Beck says while the Law Society will investigate all complaints received, the governing legislation does not allow disclosure of any information about complaints or investigations.
“If a complaint is not received, speaking generally, if sufficient evidence or information is received about the conduct of a lawyer which indicates they may have engaged in misconduct or unsatisfactory conduct, that is a matter which can be referred to a standards committee to decide whether to commence an investigation of its own motion.
“However, the provisions of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 mean we are unable to comment on specific matters or cases.”
Ms Beck says any form of sexual harassment is totally unacceptable in legal workplaces and there is no doubt that it is covered by the legislation.
“The purposes of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 are to maintain public confidence in the provision of legal services, to protect consumers of legal services and to recognise the status of the legal profession.
“While the Act focuses on the work lawyers or law firms carry out, it also makes it clear that it covers conduct which is unconnected with the provision of regulated services but which would justify a finding that the lawyer is not a fit and proper person or is otherwise unsuited to engage in practice as a lawyer.”