NZ Law Society under fire for 'sexist' dress code recommendations

Source: 1News

The New Zealand Law Society is being criticised for a sexist party dress code, just a year after the legal profession was rocked by a sexual misconduct scandal.

Invitations to the society's 150th anniversary dinner next month asked men to wear everyday business suits but asked women to turn up in cocktail dresses.

Wellington lawyer, Mark Ford, put it on social media, calling it "casual sexism."

Comments on the post included references to the dark ages and surprise that lessons haven't been learned.

Olivia Wensley is a former lawyer and has some questions for the Law Society.

"If they're not getting the smaller things right, day to day, how are they meant to be getting the big things right?" she asks.

In a statement to 1 NEWS, the president of the society's Wellington branch apologised, saying the wording was an "honest mistake."

But some in the legal community say more thought is needed.

"They've come in a climate or come up in a climate where sexism is sort of quite normal, so if it's normalised, they continue it without being aware or conscious of them doing it," says lawyer Mark Ford.

Last year, Dame Margaret Bazely conducted an independent review of the law firm Russell Mcveagh.

The report found excessive drinking led to sexually inappropriate behaviour and other instances of bullying against women.

Olivia Wensley says changes have not been forthcoming.

"There's been no accountability so far. the statistics say that up to one in three women lawyers have experienced sexual harassment, yet the law society has only censured one person, one, out of potentially thousands of incidents," she says.

As for the Law Society's anniversary dinner, attendees are now being told to wear whatever they like.