It is now generally acknowledged that sexual harassment and other predatory conduct exist in the legal profession. If elected President of the NBA, I would work in tandem with the relevant sections, committees and fora of the NBA to devise means of addressing this scourge. I am aware that the IBA has recently conducted a worldwide survey of its membership to determine the extent of this problem as well as to come up with recommendations as to the best ways of tackling the menace. The NBA would study this report with a view to adopting those of its recommendations that we consider suitable to our environment and culture.
Even though sexual harassment cuts both ways, there is no gainsaying the fact that female lawyers suffer direct or indirect harassment more than their male counterparts. I will work with the NBA Women’s Forum and other female lawyers’ associations across the board to agree on modalities for:
(i) defining what is acceptable and what is unacceptable conduct in this regard;
(ii) making it easier to report and apprehend such conduct as well as to provide guidance to victims as to means of ensuring that complaints are supported by credible evidence; and
(iii) ensure that any revision to the Rules of Professional Conduct will include the incorporation of specific provisions addressing this issue.
In the majority of cases in which lawyers find themselves in employment, either in the public or private sectors, the employer or the employer’s representative is invariably another lawyer. Thus, it is obvious to me that the attainment of the objective referred to above can only be achieved if we have A UNITED BAR in which there is a consensus around the need to protect the dignity of the profession by ensuring that minimum welfare standards are applicable to every legal professional.
Let’s do better.