Top commercial lawyer Pip Greenwood has resigned from law firm Russell McVeigh after delaying her retirement to help the firm respond to a damning report into its culture.

Greenwood, who worked for the firm for 18 years, was appointed interim chief executive after a report on the firm from Dame Margaret Bazley was released in July.

The report was commissioned following allegations that five summer clerks were sexually harassed over the summer of 2015/16. It found the organisation had a "work hard, play hard" culture of excessive drinking. It also uncovered pockets of bullying, excessive work hours for junior lawyers, and fear among lawyers and partners about the consequences of speaking out.

In a statement today, Russell McVeagh said Greenwood had put her plans to become a full-time director on hold to help lead Russell McVeagh through the commissioning and subsequent public release of the report.


She will be replaced by new chief executive Jo Avenell who has committed to continue with the transformation process and implementing the report's recommendations.

Greenwood has been on the firm's board for 10 years and has also held the role of board chair.

She said the past 18 years had exceeded her expectations.

"Russell McVeagh is a great firm and has wonderful people in it, and I have been fortunate to work with some of the best in our industry.

"I leave the firm in great hands and I look forward to watching Jo Avenell lead the firm into a new era of success."

She leaves the firm in March 2019 and plans to expand her directorship roles at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Spark, as well as taking on other governance positions.

Board chair Malcolm Crotty said Greenwood was a credit to the organisation.

"In addition to her professional excellence, Pip has played a leading role in changes within our profession. I am grateful to Pip for putting her own plans on hold in order to lead the internal changes as interim CEO and she leaves the firm well placed to continue with a revitalised culture."