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Time to act on sexual harassment in the legal profession

Time to act on sexual harassment in the legal profession

By LIV Media

Wellbeing Workplace 


The Law Institute of Victoria has joined with the legal regulator to deal with sexual harassment in the legal profession.

LIV president Stuart Webb today welcomed the launch today of an initiative by the Legal Services Board and Legal Services Commissioner to survey and act on sexual harassment affecting the legal profession.

“Experience suggests that the legal profession is not immune from sexual harassment. And we know that power imbalances can exacerbate this problem,” Mr Webb said.

“We stand side by side with the regulator to identify the problem, call it out and act on any complaints,” he said.

  • Research conducted by the Law Council of Australia has shown that one in four female lawyers and eight per cent of male lawyers experience sexual harassment in their workplace.
  • The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has found that most women in the law who experience sexual harassment in the workplace do not report it.
  • If a complaint about sexual harassment is made in the legal profession, the outcome is unlikely to be advantageous for the complainant and perpetrators rarely suffer any negative consequences.

The most common types of behaviours reported by people bringing complaints are sexually suggestive comments or offensive jokes, intrusive questions about personal matters and inappropriate staring or leering.

Mr Webb commended the LSBC for its forthright action and vowed to support it.

“The LIV will encourage law firms to develop and implement enforceable policies to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace and we are encouraged that many firms have done so already.

“The LIV is developing a Code of Conduct for its members to be considered by Council and released once endorsed,” he said.

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