University of Auckland suspends relationship with Russell McVeagh

by Steve Randall03 Mar 2018

University of Auckland suspends relationship with Russell McVeagh

One of New Zealand’s top law schools says it has put its relationship with Russell McVeagh “on hold” for the rest of the year.

The University of Auckland has made the decision following recent allegations about inappropriate behaviour at the law firm, which has prompted an external investigation.

The University’s Dean of Law Professor Andrew Stockley has issued a statement saying that his staff and students had expressed concern following the media reports.

“There is widespread feeling that there should have been a much stronger apology and public recognition of the harm that some women law students have experienced, and that the answers reported in the media have been unduly legalistic and narrow,” he said. “As an example, there have been comments made to the effect that there were no formal complaints, that privacy prevents the firm saying more, and that in some cases the women consented.”

He added that “Russell McVeagh will not be sponsoring nor attending events on campus as part of their recruitment drive.”

Professor Stockley says that the law school is working with law firms to ensure that the highest standards of behaviour and professionalism are met.

Russell McVeagh has not commented on the University of Auckland’s decision; and declined to comment on a story by the New Zealand Herald which says that a further five universities (AUT, Waikato, Victoria, Canterbury and Otago) have temporarily banned events related to the firm.

In a statement dated 25th February 2018, the firm said that any allegations are taken seriously but that without a formal complaint its ability to prove alleged misconduct is limited.

“We reiterate our commitment to having a culture of zero tolerance of any sexual harassment and have committed to an external review of the serious events of 2015/16 to assist with enabling us to better achieve this. We expect this review to include an examination of Russell McVeagh’s culture and how complaints are dealt with.”

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