Justice Minister Andrew Little says he will look closely at the recommendations made by Dame Margaret Bazley in her report into allegations of sexual assaults at law firm Russell McVeagh.
"The culture and conduct described by Dame Margaret Bazley is totally unacceptable and even though this is not a government report I will be looking closely at all the recommendations. This report highlights the need for improvements in the legal profession," Little said today.
"As Justice Minister my specific interest is in the Law Society and whether it has the right powers and capability to respond to claims of wrongful conduct towards employees of law firms."
Little said he had met Olivia Wensley and Zoe Lawton, who were instrumental in revealing the culture at law firms, about changes that need to occur to ensure a safer environment for women working in the legal profession.
"The Law Society has commissioned their own review of the handling of sexual harassment in the profession and I expect to take up the recommendations of the reviews with the Law Society," Little said in a statement.
The New Zealand Law Society says an independent inquiry into alleged sexual assaults and harassment at law firm Russell McVeagh highlights the urgent need for cultural reform across the legal profession.
Law Society President Kathryn Beck said the report about "appalling events and a dysfunctional culture" was not isolated to Russell McVeagh.
"There is nothing to suggest that the issues that have been documented in this report have not occurred elsewhere – the structures, cultures and work practices are common across the profession. These structures and cultures have historically served to keep issues like these out of the public eye and from being properly dealt with."
Beck said she was committed to making the Law Society more accessible than it has been in the past.
The Law Society has received a number of complaints around harassment and bullying over recent months.
Jan Logie, Under-Secretary for Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues, said Bazley's review showed the problems at Russell McVeagh were wide-ranging.
"It is particularly crucial that New Zealanders can put their trust in the integrity of the legal profession if we are to fully address, and prevent, sexual violence and harassment," she said.
"These problems are not limited to Russell McVeagh, nor to the legal profession. This underscores the magnitude of sexual harassment in New Zealand workplaces, and I am hearing that many employers either don't know how to respond or put their own business interests ahead of the welfare of people. This is something we need to address as a government and a country."