Alarming levels of bullying and harassment in the legal profession

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Alarming levels of bullying and harassment in the legal profession
A major global survey by the International Bar Association has highlighted alarming levels of bullying and harassment in the legal profession.

It reveals that 1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men say they have experienced bullying; and 1 in 3 women and 1 in 14 men have been sexually harassed; leading to 65% of victims either leaving or considering leaving their workplace.

And the extent of the issue is exacerbated by reluctance to report what has happened with 57% of bullying and 75% of sexual harassment cases not being reported.

“They don’t report because of the status of the perpetrator, fear of repercussions and because the incidents are often endemic to the workplace,” said IBA LPRU Legal Advisor Kieran Pender who led the project. “These issues affect all parts of the profession, from entry-level trainees to attorneys-general. We must take responsibility and develop standards of conduct to make it clear that this behaviour has no place in our profession.”

The launch event for the report ‘Us Too? Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession’ was held at Herbert Smith Freehills’ London office on 15th May.

The report found that workplaces are not doing enough to prevent or adequately respond to misconduct, with policies regarding bullying and sexual harassment present in only 53% of workplaces; and just one in five workplaces have conducted training in recognising and reporting problems in these areas.

“Lawyers and other legal professionals must be able to work in environments that are safe and supportive. Bullying and sexual harassment is never appropriate, and the profession must do all it can to stamp out such misconduct,” said Baroness Helena Kennedy, QC, Director of the IBA’s Human Rights Institute.

The full report is available at

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