Article: ‘It’s easier to stay silent’ about bullying in law – Australia worse than global averages

Lawyers Weekly..

Two leading lawyers feel there are “very few safe, socially agreeable ways” to openly discuss bullying in the legal profession, for fear of repercussions. A code of silence thus emerges, they say.

Just over two years ago, the International Bar Association published its Us Too? Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession report, showing that bullying and sexual harassment are “rife” in the Australian legal profession, with our rates “significantly higher than global averages”.

In Australia, 73 per cent of female respondents and 50 per cent of male respondents reported having been bullied in connection with their legal employment. Both figures were “significantly higher than global averages”, with female and male lawyers around the world reporting having been bullied at rates of 55 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

On the question of sexual harassment, IBA again noted Australia’s figures as “higher”, with 47 per cent of Australian female lawyers and 13 per cent of our male lawyers reported such misconduct, compared to 37 per cent of women and 7 per cent of men globally.

In explaining why such rates might be higher in Australia than in other countries, the report indicated that policies to target bullying and sexual harassment are “more widely used in Australian legal workplaces” compared to the global average, with 66 per cent of Australian lawyers saying their workplaces had relevant such policies compared to the international mean of 53 per cent.

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