A university law lecturer has made fresh claims of other complaints of excessive drinking and inappropriate sexual behaviour — including allegations of sex between staff and students on a boardroom table — at law firm Russell McVeagh.
In a social media post last night, Auckland University of Technology senior law lecturer Khylee Quince wrote that she had "held her tongue for the past week".
Earlier allegations of sexual assault and harassment of female law students at the leading law firm have emerged publicly.
Quince said that Russell McVeagh's response to claims relating to interns in the summer of 2015/16 had pushed her to act.
"I've been incensed at Russell McVeagh's response to sexual harassment and assault of young women by their staff," Quince wrote.
When Quince was approached for comment by the Herald today she indicated she was planning to speak publicly at some stage.
Her claims include that staff members had sex with students on a boardroom table.
A Russell McVeagh spokeswoman said the post on social media referred to an incident that took place "more than 10 years ago".
"Due to the consensual nature of the event, a formal complaint was never made. However, it was investigated fully and those involved were reprimanded.
"For a full formal investigation to be initiated we require a formal complaint to be made so that privacy laws are not breached.
"This has limited our ability to prove the alleged misconduct," the spokeswoman said.
Quince, a former practising lawyer who taught law at the University of Auckland before switching to AUT, wrote that "some years ago" a student came to her University of Auckland office the morning after attending a seminar at Russell McVeagh.
"[She] was very upset about what had happened there. She said that after the seminar, the solicitors and students proceeded to drink the firm's bar dry and things got out of control - culminating in a number of staff having sex on the boardroom table with several students - in front of other students."
After making inquiries, Quince was satisfied there was no question as to consent, so did not involve police, she wrote.
But she did tell her University of Auckland colleague, late associate professor Nin Tomas.
"You can imagine her response."
According to Quince, the pair contacted the firm and demanded a meeting with the partner alleged to have been present, but he refused to engage or meet with them.
"After some persistence we marched over the hill to the firm and met with the CEO and a senior associate from the team involved, but who had not been present went the trouble started.
"Nin and I went full Ngapuhi on them - to no avail. Their response was that the students were adults - who needed to managed their own drinking; the firm bore no responsibility for them on their premises and frankly, this was none of their business.
"I couldn't believe it."
Quince said the pair also told the university, whose response was similar and included a claim that it was not their business because it occurred after hours and off university premises.
The incident affected their student group for years, Quince wrote.
"The young women concerned became withdrawn and did not fully participate in the group or in student/university life generally. The whistleblower became persona non grata."
As for Tomas and herself, they became "extremely protective of our students, she wrote.
"We had not been informed of this seminar and blamed ourselves for not being present to protect our kids. And as you can imagine I never engaged with RM again and would not endorse them as an employer or sponsor."
She was not concerned about her anonymity at all, Quince wrote.
"I'm more than willing to swear to this."
Russell McVeagh's spokeswoman reiterated that the law firm had "a culture of zero tolerance of any sexual harassment" and had committed to an external review of the serious events of 2015/16.
Over the past 20 years there have been a "limited number of allegations of poor behaviour involving consensual sexual events including on our premises".
"When allegations of any sort have been made we have taken action. If proven, we have taken action appropriate to the severity of the misconduct. In some cases, this has resulted in termination of employment or a partner departing, regardless of their seniority," the spokeswoman said.
"There will no doubt be rumours or online chat about other supposed events in the past that either weren't known about at the time by management or were alleged and not proven or were not the subject of formal complaints. We are unable to comment on events that may or may not have happened in such circumstances."
Allegations about the law firm first emerged publicly this month when former Russell McVeagh staff members told Newsroom about inappropriate sexual behaviour.
A former employee later told the Herald on Sunday senior managers at the leading law firm had ignored repeated warnings about the behaviour and the drinking culture.
Two incidents allegedly happened at Christmas functions and another at the El Horno Bar in Wellington. At least one complaint was allegedly made to police about a man's behaviour at El Horno.
Victoria University vice chancellor Grant Guilford previously said he understood a young law clerk student who was part of a summer programme made an allegation of sexual assault.
He was aware of several other young women who also allegedly experienced sexually inappropriate behaviour at the time.
Long-standing Russell McVeagh chief executive Gary McDiarmid said previously that a full internal investigations took place after the allegations were made, and the subject of the allegations left the firm.
The firm has also said in a statement that what happened in 2015/16 was "completely unacceptable" and the "brave" women who spoke out about it at the time had led to actions being taken to improve the workplace culture
On Friday Russell McVeagh also announced an independent review was planned, and would include all actions taken in response to the specific incidents, management practices and policies in relation to preventing sexual harassment, and supporting those who wished to make complaints, and the organisational culture of the firm.
Auckland University has also been approached for comment.