Dignity Matters Project

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.

Background

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.

Unacceptable behaviour

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

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)

Training

IBA Us Too? – Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession Training

Research

Law Society of Ireland: Dignity Matters Report (2021)

The International Bar Association (IBA): UsToo? Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession (2019)

Occupational Medicine: The value of lost productivity from workplace bullying in Ireland (2020)

Deloitte: The Economic Cost of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (2019)

Institute for Women’s Policy and Research: Paying Today and Tomorrow - Charting the Financial Costs of Workplace Sexual Harassment

National Anti Bullying Research and Resource Centre -  A university-designated research centre located in DCU Institute of Education

Supports

If you have been psychologically affected by bullying, harassment, or sexual harassment, you can call LegalMind at any time on freephone number 1800 81 41 77 to speak to a psychotherapist or counsellor. Alternatively, you can also send an SMS/WhatsApp to LegalMind and a case manager will text you back as soon as possible that day. Text ‘Hi’ to 0353 87 369 0010 (standard rates apply).
In addition to the above, solicitors may register for the LegalMind portal.

Contact us

If you would like to find out more about the Dignity Matters Project, you can contact Julie Breen, Professional Wellbeing Executive.