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Law Society launches landmark study to address bullying and harassment at work

18 May 2021 / law society Print

Law Society launches landmark study to address bullying and harassment

The Law Society has launched Dignity Matters, a first of its kind evidence-based research study to address bullying, harassment and sexual harassment in the Irish solicitors’ profession. 

This study comes following a motion proposed by Law Society members and approved at the Society’s AGM in November last year.

Confidential

The Law Society has commissioned international agency Crowe to conduct this research, including an independent and confidential survey of all solicitor trainees and solicitors who are practising or have previously practised in Ireland.

Michelle Ní Longáin, senior vice-president of the Law Society, (small picture) said, “The Law Society Dignity Matters study is the first of its kind in Ireland to address bullying, harassment and sexual harassment in the solicitors' profession and to support a culture of dignity, respect and inclusivity.”

“The launch of this survey is another important step forward in our continued commitment to improving gender equality, diversity and inclusion across the solicitors’ profession wherever solicitors work and whatever capacity they work in.

Evidence

“The results from the Dignity Matters survey will provide the evidence we need to make recommendations on how to tackle bullying, harassment and sexual harassment within the solicitors’ profession from trainee level and on throughout all career stages,” she said.

“This is the second large-scale research study conducted to inform the Law Society’s Professional Wellbeing Project, which was launched in 2019 to address the specific challenges our members have told us they experience in the course of their work as solicitors. This innovative project provides practical supports, education and guidance across three pillars: workplace culture, resilience and wellbeing, and emotional and psychological health,” explained Ms Ní Longáin.

“Crucially, the Dignity Matters survey is not just for solicitors who have personally experienced or have seen bullying, harassment and sexual harassment during their career. It is vital that we hear from everyone, including those who have not been affected, so we get an accurate depiction of the true workplace culture that exists.

Rounded picture

“We also actively encourage non-practising solicitors to engage in this research as their contributions will help to give a rounded picture of the culture in the many workplaces in which solicitors work,” she said.

“Solicitors who experience distress due to the sensitive subject matter of this survey are encouraged to contact LegalMind, an independent service open to Law Society members, to speak in confidence to a mental health professional on 1800 81 41 77. Alternatively, our online Professional Wellbeing Hub signposts to independent wellbeing and mental health resources. Trainees are advised to contact Law School Psychological Services.”

A small cohort of Irish solicitors previously participated in the ‘Us Too? Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession’ survey published by the International Bar Association (IBA) in 2019.

“While we can’t speculate on what the results of the Law Society study might reveal about the Irish solicitors’ profession, the International Bar Association’s 2019 study findings highlighted some concerning issues in other jurisdictions.”

No place in profession

“Bullying, harassment and sexual harassment have absolutely no place in our profession. Creating psychological safety for all of our members requires an investment of time, expertise and resources.

The Law Society is committed to supporting that change and to collaborating with the profession to build a safe and healthy legal community,” Ms Ní Longáin concluded.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland