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Law Society phone line for workplace harassment support

Law Society launching phone line for workplace harassment support

The New Zealand Law Society is launching a new 0800 phone line where people in the legal community are able to discuss sensitive matters such as workplace harassment and the options and support they can access.

Callers will be able to discuss their experiences or those of others and receive information on the support available, or on how they can lodge a report.

Harassment could be of a sexual nature or include any other unacceptable behaviour that may have occurred as part of the persons’ work.

The ‘Law Care’ phone line goes live on Tuesday 3 April and will be staffed by five people, including both lawyers and non-lawyers, employed by the Law Society.

All have been specially trained in dealing with harassment complaints.

The ‘Law Care’ phone line will initially operate from Monday to Thursday between 9:00 am and 7:30pm and on Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

“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,” says Law Society Executive Director Mary Ollivier.

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

A working group chaired by Dame Silvia Cartwright has also been set up to investigate whether the current regulatory framework, practices and processes:

· Enable adequate reporting of harassment or inappropriate workplace behaviour within the legal profession;

· Provide adequate support for those affected by harassment or inappropriate workplace behaviour; and

· Enable effective action to be taken where such conduct is alleged.

“Staff that are operating the ‘Law Care’ phone line will be able to offer callers a range of options for accessing support and assistance in dealing with their concerns. In turn, it will also provide the Law Society with another effective tool in gaining a clear picture as to the extent of harassment and bullying that occurs in the legal community,” Mrs Ollivier says.

The Law Care service is being launched simultaneously with a new online facility for lawyers to submit confidential reports of harassment and other unacceptable behaviour to the Law Society, building on an existing obligation to report such matters.

Operators of the Law Care phone line will 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.

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.

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