A birthday bash for the Wellington branch of the Law Society has reportedly resulted in a number of upset and uncomfortable participants as a result of the attendance by a former Russell McVeagh partner who is reportedly under investigation by the Law Society for his role in the now infamous summer intern issues that turned the profession upside down.
Stuff reported that the event, which was a $165-a-head 150th commemorative dinner for the branch, held at Te Papa, was a cause for further discomfort for many in attendance when a speech was made that directly referred to the #Metoo issues that first broke in the capital.
The Law Society will not confirm that there is a current investigation underway, but #Metoo activist Olivia Wensley, one of the so-called ‘Power Women’ in the New Zealand #Metoo movement, confirmed to the site that a complaint was made about the man.
It is this secrecy that Ms Wensley and others say further detracts from the Law Society’s efficacy in such matters, quite apart from providing some resolution for the victims of abuse.
“The whole process sends a message to victims of ‘don’t bother complaining – nothing will happen’,” Wensley said.
“The victims must be extremely frustrated by the delays. Because of confidentiality they won’t even be able to speak out about their frustration – it is appalling.”
The secrecy of the Law Society complaints process meant it could go on for years without a decision, she said.
Justice Minister Andrew Little recently said he had met with the Law Society several times in recent years, since two reports came out over the sexual assault and other issues of misconduct within the profession.
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