Addressing sexual harassment in the legal profession

Addressing sexual harassment in the legal profession

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

We welcome an initiative by the Legal Services Board and Legal Services Commissioner to survey and act on sexual harassment affecting the legal profession.

Why more work is needed

  • 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.

The Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) will ask law firms to develop and implement enforceable policies to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace, and it’s encouraging that many firms have done so already.

The LIV is also developing a code of conduct for its members to be considered by Council and released once endorsed.

More information

Read more about how you can make a sexual harassment complaint against a lawyer.

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