Another week Russell McVeagh would rather forget . . But the delays are a wakeup call for many law firms beyond ‘The Factory’
It’s been (another) week Russell McVeagh would rather forget, as a former partner faces the music, several years after the alleged misconduict offences occurred.
Newsroom recounted the week’s hearings of drink-fueled parties and nights at ‘The Horn’ – Courtenay Place bar El Horno – and late night sessions during the now infamous season of summer interns at the firm during 2015/16 with four female complainants alleging they were groped at the party while a fifth female did not participate having engaged in a consensual relationship with the partner at the time.
The hearing before the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal, where the former partner admitted to ‘unsatisfactory conduct’ over four of the seven charges laid against him by the committee.
Three more charges remain to be determined as well as whether any of the seven meet the higher standard of ‘misconduct’ that would bring more severe consequences – including, potentially, the end of his professional practice.
As Newsroom commented, the partner’s own recollection of events was not as sound as he may have wished it to appear.
“The man sat quietly by his lawyers throughout proceedings, following the written evidence on his computer and taking copious notes of the witnesses’ testimony,” Newsroom said.
“When it came time for him to take the witness stand, he talked of growing up without a sense of fitting in anywhere, and of developing a dependency on alcohol which ultimately became his undoing.
“They, the clerks, deserve my unreserved apologies. I apologise unreservedly to them,” he said.
But early in a four hour cross-examination by Luke Cunningham partner and prosecutor Dale La Hood, prosecuting the case for the committee, the partner conceded his apology did in fact come with strings attached;
“I cannot apologise for something, for the aspects that I do not think happened or that may have been misinterpreted,” he put it.
The partner, who said he was “10 out of 10 drunk… probably 11” by the end of the night, La Hood said he was in no position to deny the claims that had bene made against him.
La Hood said the intent of his behaviour towards the summer clerks was made clear by the sexualised team culture he had overseen at Russell McVeagh, with a sense of entitlement encouraged by the fact he had seen similar behaviour from other partners and senior staff go unpunished in the past.
A tough week – again – for Russell McVeagh.