Former Russell McVeagh lawyer facing eight sexual misconduct charges

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Former Russell McVeagh lawyer facing eight sexual misconduct charges

A former Russell McVeagh attorney on charges of sexual misconduct will face eight charges on alleged incidents six years ago.

The lawyer, whose name is suppressed, will be charged with “various forms of sexual misconduct” when he appears before the Lawyers & Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal in mid-May.

Five of the charges relate to a Wellington office Christmas party. Three more relate to a team Christmas party at the attorney’s house.

The New Zealand Law Society has been criticized for the length of time between the first publication of the complaints in February 2018 and the taking of action.

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The alleged incidents occurred in 2015.

Strict rules regarding confidentiality have resulted in the Law Society not even being able to confirm that it has investigated the claims.

The confirmation of the forthcoming hearing provides evidence for the first time that the Law Society is taking the allegations seriously.

This means that a complaint was filed, that the complaint was referred to a standards body, and that committee then examined the claims and determined that they were serious enough to be referred to the Disciplinary Court for more serious claims to be heard.

Russell McVeagh law firm in Wellington became the focus of New Zealand's #MeToo movement.

Robert Kitchin / Stuff

Russell McVeagh law firm in Wellington became the focus of New Zealand’s #MeToo movement.

The tribunal has the power to prevent attorneys from exercising or to suspend them.

The Law Society’s register indicates that the attorney has an up-to-date internship certificate.

After the allegations became public, the company became the focus of New Zealand’s #MeToo movement.

The allegations sparked similar claims in other firms, with hundreds protesting outside Russell McVeagh Wellington’s office and then two independent investigations: one by Dame Margaret Bazley in Russell McVeagh and one by Dame Silvia Cartwright in the Law Society.