The seedy side of NZ's legal industry exposed

  • 03/03/2018

The host of an anonymous blog aimed at highlighting sexual harassment in the law industry has been blown away by the response.

Zoe Lawton's #MeToo blog has had more than 50 submissions in 48 hours from people sharing their stories following the Russell McVeagh scandal.

Ms Lawton says the results have been telling.

"Lots of posts have been about law firms, some have been about Government departments, legal teams within those Government departments, legal teams within companies, and also behaviour in the court setting."

One post described how a "client asked me to sit on his lap and call him Daddy. I reacted negatively. I was told off by male partner because 'the client always comes first'."

Another described how after 10 years as a barrister, they were called "cute, very cute" by a judge.  

A third said they were once alone with a judge ahead of a case involving an alleged rape of a man.

"He had a good laugh about that, and said, 'How long do you think that trial is going to go on before I abort it?'"

Ms Lawton hopes her blog will keep the conversation alive.

"I kind of just wanted to do something practical that would enable people to have an outlet for what's happened to them, what they've witnessed or what they would like to see changed."

She will pass on the submissions to the Law Society.

"I wanted to actually gather some evidence on the type of sexual harassment, sexual assault and gender discrimination that's happening, and have that all in one place."

The posts can be read on Ms Lawton's website.