In 2021, the Law Society appointed independent external consultant, Crowe, to deliver the Dignity Matters survey to enquire about solicitors and trainees’ experience of work environments in Ireland, specifically as it relates to bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment.
At the Law Society’s 2020 Annual General Meeting, the Society was mandated by its members to:
"Commission a profession-wide survey in similar terms to that carried out by the International Bar Association (IBA) on bullying and sexual harassment; and to implement recommendations of the IBA Report titled “Us Too? Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession."
Following this mandate, the Law Society appointed independent external consultant, Crowe, to deliver the Dignity Matters survey to enquire about solicitors and trainees’ experience of work environments in Ireland, specifically as it relates to bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment.
The resulting report, available for you to read in full here (log-in required), is a landmark milestone in the Society’s commitment to improving professional wellbeing, gender equality, diversity and inclusion in the solicitors’ profession. It sheds light on the nature, prevalence and impact of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment as experienced by members of the Law Society and Law School trainees. It also provides a suite of recommendations for the Law Society and the solicitors’ profession to prevent, respond to, and tackle these types of behaviours.
The significance of this report cannot be underestimated. The findings are unequivocal. Unacceptably high levels of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment have been reported. These revelations, while deeply troubling, are a call to action to reaffirm our commitment to eradicating these negative behaviours that have no place in our profession. We must now work collaboratively with our members to stamp out bullying, harassment and sexual harassment.
Over the coming years, the Law Society commits to implementing the Dignity Matters report recommendations and engaging with you in this task. This webpage will serve as a one-stop-shop for information on all that we are doing as part of the Dignity Matters Project. We will work with you, our members, and firms, to eliminate unacceptable behaviours that do not align with the values of integrity, trust and respect that are the foundation of our profession.
As we make progress, we will continue to learn from other sectors also tackling these types of behaviours. Unfortunately, this is not unique to the solicitors’ profession.
Tools and resources from Ireland
The Law Society Dignity at Work Toolkit
Health and Safety Authority: Bullying at Work
Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work (2020)
Lewis Silkin: Ireland – New code of practice on preventing workplace bullying
McCann Fitzgerald: New guidance on workplace bullying published
Ronan Daly Jermyn: New Code of Practice overhauls workplace bullying
Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment (2012)
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: Discussion Paper Workplace Sexual Harassment & Abuse (2021)
McCann Fitzgerald: Sexual harassment takes centre stage in the workplace
Law Society of Ireland: Employment Law Legal Guides (Bullying)
Law Society of Ireland: Updated employment and equality law precedents
HSE: Dignity at Work Policy
Irish Theatre Institute: Towards a code of behaviour
Tools and resources from other jurisdictions/professional bodies
Law Society of New South Wales: Workplace Guide & Model Discrimination and Harassment Policies (2021)
Victorian Bar: Internal conduct policies and reports (2021)
New Zealand Law Society: Guidance on professional standards and reporting obligations (2021)
Law Society of Singapore: Workplace Harassment in the Legal Profession – A Resource Guide for Members (2020)
Australian Human Rights Commission: Bystander Action Fact Sheet
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development: Managing conflict in the modern workplace (2020)
Law Society of Scotland: Model Bullying and Harassment Policies
Bar Council UK: Equality and Diversity Guides - Discrimination, Harassment, Bullying and Inappropriate Behaviours (2019)
Deloitte: Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace - FAQ (2018)
Deloitte: Anti-sexual harassment advisory - Helping build a safer work environment (2017)
If you would like to find out more about the Dignity Matters Project, you can contact Julie Breen, Professional Wellbeing Executive.