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Report Finds Sexual Harassment and Bullying Rampant in the Legal Industry


Year after year, stats confirm more women are enrolling in law schoolthan men. In theory, this should represent a culture shift to more female-empowered work environments. However, a new report finds 1 in 3 women in the legal profession has experienced sexual harassment at work and 75 percent of victims don’t report the incident.

The global survey, conducted by the International Bar Association, gathered responses from nearly 7000 professionals in 135 countries. The IBA reached out to people with different titles including attornies, interns, and paralegals.

The report paints a bleak picture of the legal industry. One in two women have faced bullying in their workplace, but just over half of the incidents were reported. When asked why they didn’t come forward, people cited the usual fear of repercussion and the status of the perp at work. The most common culprit was a manager or supervisor. Imagine becoming the victim of harassment at the hands of your boss and being forced to keep quiet because you might get fired. What’s ironic is some of these people made a career fighting to protect the rights of other victims. Yet, here they are falling prey to the same toxic behavior. And, in many cases, they are leaving their jobs in droves to get away from the madness.

” I left the workplace, considered changing careers and contemplated suicide,” said one female attorney.

Oh, and fellas, y’all aren’t exactly immune. Of the males surveyed, a third have been bullied at work too. Men are also just as likely to tolerate and keep these incidents to themselves.

Right now, a fresh batch of future lawyers is preparing to start law school this fall. Soon they’ll apply to internships and get their first real taste of the industry. If the IBA’s report is any indication of the climate of the legal profession, they’re set to walk into a depressing and demoralizing arena. If we want things to change by the time you, dear reader, gets to law school, we need to demand it now.

Only 53 percent of the respondents’ workplaces had policies in place to address bullying and harassment. Clearly, there’s a lot of work to do and tons of room for improvement. We can start locally, given that the United States had the highest percentage of respondents who were sexually harassed. Maybe it’s because our President said. Fortunately, you’re in the right career to influence the direction of our laws and judicial justice.