The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has found James Desmond Gardner-Hopkins, a former Russell McVeagh Partner, guilty of misconduct on six charges brought by a National Standards Committee on behalf of the New Zealand Law Society.
In his evdience, Gardner-Hopkins described his perception of the culture of the firm, and in particular the client development side of it, which he said involved a great deal of entertaining, including heavy drinking. He believed that he was expected to be the
“young, cool partner” and as such was also involved in the recruitment of law students to the revered scholarship programme.
He described the “laddish” culture that where partners or human resources managers routinely put credit cards down on the bar “with no limits on drinks for clerks and staff”. He described his first 24-hour shift as a summer clerk as not being regarded as particularly exceptional, but rather “… celebrated as a welcome to the factory – you’ve earned your first badge of honour, the “all-nighter”.”
Law Society President Tiana Epati said: “The decision by the Tribunal sets a clear benchmark for the standards expected of lawyers, not only within an office environment but when attending work functions and events.”