Sexual assault allegations by female law students levelled at top Wellington firm

Victoria University student societies are assessing their relationship with top law firm Russell McVeagh after allegations of sexual assault against its female law students.

The incidents reportedly took place two years ago at social functions, and involved more than one woman.

Victoria University Vice Chancellor, Grant Guilford, told RNZ today, two older lawyers were involved in the incidents, and it had lasting effects on the young women.

"[It] leads to all sorts of emotion - the loss of self confidence," he said.

"But also, guilt, which of course is completely an inappropriate emotion, but is what many of these young women feel."

The police were involved but no charges have resulted.

Newsroom.co.nz, which revealed the allegations on Wednesday, said two incidents happened at Christmas functions and another at the El Horno Bar in Wellington.

The New Zealand Law Society, meanwhile, was unable to confirm whether or not a sexual misconduct complaint has been laid.

Law Society President Kathryn Beck says any form of sexual harassment is totally unacceptable in legal workplaces and there is no doubt that it is covered by legislation, but she was unable to disclose any information about complaints made.

"The purposes of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 are to maintain public confidence in the provision of legal services, to protect consumers of legal services and to recognise the status of the legal profession."

A senior partner at Russell McVeagh, Pip Greenwood, told RNZ the firm's board were aware of the allegations and conducted an internal investigation.

The men involved no longer work at the company, she said.

Some employees at Russell McVeagh were accused of inappropriate behaviour towards two student interns two years ago. Source: 1 NEWS

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