All applicants for a practicing certificate will now be asked by the New Zealand Law Society
to share their ethnicity.
The move is to help the organisation widen its focus on lawyer diversity in the country. It will also update the Law Society’s data on ethnicity, as the best data it currently holds comes from its 2013 census, said Tiana Epati, vice president (North Island) of the Law Society.
There is an option to decline to share ethnicity.
The timing is right to gain a better understanding of the ethnic makeup of the legal fraternity in New Zealand, she said.
According to the Law Society, it has collected ethnicity data since 2009, but lawyers were not required until now to provide the information. It said that 40% of the country’s 12,800 lawyers have not indicated their ethnicity. The 2013 census data reveals that 88% of lawyers described themselves as European, 7% as Asian, 6% as Māori and 2% as Pacific Peoples.
Epati said that there was a noticeable difference when that data is compared to what New Zealanders said that year. In 2013, 77% of all New Zealanders identified as European, 11% as Māori, 11% as Asian, and 5% as Pacific Peoples, she said.
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