Bullying, Discrimination and Harassment

 

The legal profession has made it clear that it will not tolerate bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment in our profession and therefore the Society as the peak body for the profession in South Australia is determined to do all it can to address this issue to ensure that all legal practitioners, whether working in the public or private sectors or in-house are treated with respect, courtesy and fairness and that the standards expected of the profession are maintained at all times.

As part of the Society’s action plan a survey was conducted on bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment within the South Australian legal profession in 2018 and in light of the results, various initiatives were identified and actioned by a Working Group to address the issues raised by the survey. 

One of these initiatives is the publication of a Guideline for Bullying, Discrimination and Sexual Harassmentwhich contains a No Tolerance statement. The Society has adopted the No Tolerance statement and encourages all legal firms to also do so.  

If you experience bullying, discrimination or harassment in the course of your practice either personally or as a witness you should report it in accordance with the applicable policy at your workplace or to your supervisor or practice manager.

You also have the right to: 


Inappropriate Personal Conduct – Legal Profession Conduct Commissioner

The Legal Profession Conduct Commissioner (Commissioner) has implemented a new processes for the confidential (and anonymous if preferred) reporting of sexual harassment, discrimination and workplace bullying in the legal profession.

Persons now have the option of speaking confidentiality, and anonymously if wished, about sexual harassment, discrimination and workplace bullying in the legal profession to an officer appointed by the Commissioner prior to, or instead of, making a formal complaint. The officer appointed by the Commissioner for this purpose is Ms Nadine Lambert. Ms Lambert has specialised experience in this area.

A person who is considering making a complaint of inappropriate personal conduct can contact Ms Lambert directly for a confidential (and anonymous if wished) discussion about the conduct and advice about complaint procedures, alternative options and available resources by calling 08 8456 8870 or by sending an email to bdh@lpcc.sa.gov.au.

For full information please go to the LPCC website. You can also access the Commissioner’s article “Sexual harassment in the legal profession: the role of complaints processes” published in the November 2020 edition of The Bulletin.


Complaints about the conduct of current or former judicial officers of South Australia – Chief Justice of South Australia, The Honourable Chris Kourakis

In response to the Report on the Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession, the Honourable Chris Kourakis has established a dedicated email address (complaints@courts.sa.gov.au) to which complaints about the conduct of any serving or former judicial officer of this State can be sent. The complaint can be made anonymously or the complainant can choose to identify themselves.

The Chief Justice has offered to meet with any complainant who would like to discuss their complaint with him directly, and to do so away from the courts to ensure confidentiality, if the complainant wishes.  He has also advised he would support any complainant who comes forward in referring the matter to SA Police or the Judicial Conduct Commissioner should they wish to pursue their complaint formally.


SA Bar Association

The SA Bar Association operates a procedure to deal with grievances concerning sexual harassment, workplace bullying and discrimination. Details of the procedure and other resources available to SABA Members is available on the SABA website here.


Summary of options of how to report harassment, the possible outcomes and advice and support services

The Equal Opportunity Commissioner has produced a Harassment in the Legal Profession Fact Sheet that summarises the various complaint mechanisms and supports available to those experiencing harassment in a legal sector workplace.


Society Support Services

Information about the Society’s support services, which include support in relation to bullying, discrimination or harassment can be accessed via the links below.


Law Society Publications


Bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination in the legal profession: What is the Society doing about it? by Amy Nikolovski - Bulletin, December 2020 
Sexual harassment in the legal profession: the role of complaints processes, by Greg May, Legal Profession Conduct Commissioner - Bulletin, November 2020 
The scourge of sexual harassment in the profession must be stamped out - Media Release, June 2020 
Survey results trigger action plan to make workplaces safer - Bulletin, December 2019 
Global report shines light on bullying and harassment in the legal profession   – Media Release, May 2019
Working Group develops anti-discrimination recommendations following survey – Bulletin, February 2019
Law Society forms working group to address workplace bullying, discrimination and harassment in response to survey – Media Release, October 2018

Law Council of Australia

National Action Plan to reduce sexual harassment in the Australian Legal Profession - December 2020
Bullying and harassment in the workplace webpage

Practitioners are encouraged to contact the Ethics and Practice Unit for assistance or further enquiries on 8229 0229 or ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au.