'Totally untrue' Law Society was unaware of sexual misconduct - lawyer

A barrister says it's "totally untrue" that the Law Society was unaware of the prevalence of sexual harassment in the legal profession.

The woman, who must remain anonymous for legal reasons, took issue with an apology letter sent to lawyers from Law Society president Kathryn Beck on Wednesday, after the release of a shocking survey.

"Anyone can apologise for something," she told Newshub.

"However the letter from the president today also noted that the legal profession was taken by surprise and that, I think, is totally untrue.

"If there was any blindness, it was wilful blindness - and that really gives the apology significantly less weight than it otherwise might have had."

The survey, released on Wednesday morning, revealed one-third of female lawyers had experienced sexual harassment during their careers - or one-fifth of all lawyers.

The lawyer welcomes the exposure of the problem, but says the Law Society's response should have come earlier and should be all the more greater now because of the delay.

"A huge amount of people have left the profession particularly for this reason - they're not getting an apology are they?" she said.

"For a profession that is so old and has so much mana behind it, to have let such a large area totally slip out of control is really horrific, and that does make me feel very, very disappointed."

The lawyer claims she was at work drinks as an intern when a senior male colleague offered to get her home safely.

He instead took her to his house and sexually violated her, she alleges. The power imbalance left her feeling helpless to speak out at the time.

"If I rocked the boat I would risk not getting a job with the firm, and that was something I really wanted. I didn't say anything to anyone," she said.

She advises young women who are considering working at large firms to be cautious.

"I certainly wouldn't recommend for young female lawyers to go into a large firm, at least without caution, without understanding what they are stepping into," she said.

"My experience was that that kind of behaviour, both sexual harassment and power and control dynamics in other areas, was absolutely rife - and for young women especially."