Speaking last week, ALSA president Erin Ritchie (pictured) demanded that the Australian legal profession take immediate action to end such workplace misconduct, declaring there “needs to be an impetus for change” among the broader profession.
The responsibility for fixing the problem, Ms Ritchie posited, “ultimately rests with the profession”.
“We know that bullying and harassment are endemic in the Australian legal industry and ALSA condemns this behaviour,” she said.
“This is a long-existing and toxic culture which disproportionately affects young legal professionals, especially women, who make up the majority of law graduates.”
ALSA intends to collaborate with the legal industry and relevant stakeholders, it proclaimed, to combat workplace bullying and harassment, both for the next generation of lawyers coming through the ranks as well as those already in practice.
In addition, ALSA wants to ensure “that all law students are equipped with an understanding of how to respond to this behaviour and are provided with adequate resources to do so”, it added.
ALSA incoming vice-president (education) Madeleine Goodsir said that ALSA is cognisant of its role in “agitating for a change in workplace culture”.
“This is an issue that affects law students and graduates right across Australia, and we all need to come together to make the necessary changes to ensure that every legal professional can go to work and be free from bullying and harassment,” she said.
“I look forward to working with law student representatives across Australia to advocate on issues that affect the 40,000 law students that ALSA represents.”
The comments followed ALSA’s 40th Anniversary Conference and were made on behalf of representatives from 39 law student societies and associations from across the country.
Jerome Doraisamy is a senior writer for Lawyers Weekly and Wellness Daily. He is also the author of The Wellness Doctrines book series, an admitted solicitor in NSW, an adjunct lecturer at The University of Western Australia and is a board director of Minds Count.