A new 0800 phone line is being launched to allow legal professionals to discuss issues like workplace harassment.

The New Zealand Law Society today announced the new initiative, which goes live on Tuesday.

This comes after a series of reports of young female lawyers and law students being sexually harassed by more senior lawyers.

The Law Care phone line would allow callers to discuss their experiences and receive information on the support available and how they can lodge a complaint.

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Harassment could be of a sexual nature or include any other unacceptable behaviour that may have occurred as part of the persons' work, the Society said in a statement.

The Law Care phone line was part of a raft of initiatives developed by the Law Society to focus on addressing serious allegations of harassment and bullying occurring in the legal community.

The service was being launched simultaneously with a new online facility for lawyers to submit confidential reports of harassment and other unacceptable behaviour to the Law Society.

The Law Society had also recently announced a working group, chaired by Dame Silvia Cartwright, has been set up to investigate whether the current regulatory framework, practices and processes enabled adequate reporting of harassment or inappropriate workplace behaviour within the legal profession; provided adequate support for those affected by harassment or inappropriate workplace behaviour; and enabled effective action to be taken where such conduct was alleged.

The new phone line would be staffed by five people specially trained in dealing with harassment complaints and employed by the law society.

It would initially operate from 9am to 7.30pm Monday to Thursday and from 9am to 5pm on Fridays.

"However, if we need to alter these hours because of a strong uptake, then we will look at adjusting the operation to suit and satisfy the demand," Law Society executive director Mary Ollivier said.

Operators of the Law Care phone line would be able to provide callers with options about the services they can seek support from, including:
• Registered counsellors or clinical psychologists with expertise in the area.
• Members of the Law Society's National Friends Panel with specific expertise in sensitive issues.
• Information about the online reporting facility and the Law Society's complaints process.
• Other formal or informal avenues for resolving the issues.

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The Law Care phone number is 0800 0800 28. Callers are also able to email their concerns to lawcare@lawsociety.org.nz and request a call back.