Jack Lethbridge was elected President of the New Zealand Law Society in April.photo/courtesy
Law Society Chairman Jack Lethbridge resigned after a critical culture review found her acting in a way some employees found “offensive and irrational”. did.
A report by former Attorney General Mike Herron KC states that Lethbridge was genuinely motivated and did not intend to cause the consequences that occurred.
However, “his actions were described as inappropriate and unreasonable for a person in the position of president.”
Lethbridge, who resigned in August, issued a statement, acknowledging the findings and saying her true motivation was to make a change in the role of president and achieve her goals.
“These goals were to defend the interests of the legal profession and bring about much-needed change,” said Lethbridge.
“During the short time I held the role of President, I did my best to reach my goals in that particular environment.
“I look back at how my approach and communication style, unmistakably direct and rigorous, has been experienced in that environment.”
The Law Society asked Heron to conduct an independent cultural review of the organization after “allegations of behavioral concerns” surfaced earlier this year.
In a statement this afternoon, the association’s vice president, David Campbell, said the report was commissioned “against the breakdown of relations between the chairman and the then chief executive of the law association.” rice field.
“Mr Heron KC, taking into account all statements and submissions, reported the following as a whole:
The president behaved in a way that some employees found offensive and irrational,” Campbell said.
“Heron found that the president was genuinely motivated and did not intend the consequences that occurred, but his actions were described as inappropriate and unreasonable for anyone in the position of president. rice field.
Findings in Herron’s report suggest confusion between the roles of president and chief executive officer in law associations.
His proposals include a delegated authority policy that clarifies the relationship between the board and the CEO, and a job description for the president to be approved by the board and council.
“The Board has accepted the report and will work with the executive team to act on Herron KC’s recommendations as an additional part of a broader transformation work plan already underway,” Campbell said. rice field.
“The Acting Executive Director also received the resignation of Jack Lethbridge.
President effective immediately.
“Soon a new president will be appointed by the council.”
Lethbridge has acknowledged that she has resigned as president of the Law Society.
“I am heartened to see the Board’s statement that it has committed to addressing important cultural issues within NZLS that were revealed in a staff engagement survey recommended by Heron KC in April 2022.
“As Mr. Heron KC pointed out, I am back to focus fully on my business. His commentary has nothing to do with my legal competence. I would like to thank my office and colleagues for their steadfast support during this difficult time.”
In July the Herald reported that Lethbridge claim from the front of “behavioral concerns” when she made sure she was at the center of the allegations.
But Lethbridge, who was elected in April as chairman of the regulatory body that oversees the actions of 15,000 New Zealand lawyers, has strongly denied the unspecified allegations.
She also said she fully supports the organization’s independent “Cultural Review” launched in response to the accusations, “including those I have raised directly.”
An unsourced statement was posted on the association’s website in July, saying that “allegations of behavioral concerns at the New Zealand Law Association Te Kahui Tule o Aotearoa” had surfaced in the media.
“Concerns do not relate to the actions of any Bar Association staff, vice president, or past president,” the statement said.
“While we have not received any bullying complaints, we have requested an extensive cultural review of the organization in response to the concerns raised. This review will be conducted by Mike Heron QC.”
The statement said it is important that all New Zealanders have trust and confidence in society, both as regulators and advocates for the legal profession.
“We are bound by confidentiality and cannot comment further, but we will remain as transparent as possible.”
In response, Lethbridge, a senior commercial litigation attorney and partner at a top Auckland law firm, released her own statement at the time.
“Following media reports, the Bar Association issued a statement confirming that no complaints of bullying or harassment were received, noting that several behavioral concerns were raised.
“There is some confusion as to who was the subject of the alleged concern.
“I would like to clarify that I am the person referred to in that statement and deny the concerns raised.
“I have participated in the Board’s decision to initiate an extensive review of NZLS’ work culture being conducted by Mike Heron QC to address all concerns, including those raised directly by me, and have fully and look forward to fully participating in it.”
Since being elected president in April, she said her platform has been one of fairness and transparency.
“We strongly believe that our profession and the reputation of our organization can only be improved and profited through a clear, open and fair approach.”
In July, Minister of Justice Kiri Alan told the Herald that she was aware of the issue but had not sought a briefing or clarification from the Law Society.
In general terms, Mr. Allan said:
“When a review has been commissioned and it would be inappropriate for me to comment while that process is ongoing.
Having started his practice in 2004, Mr. Lethbridge has been involved in several high-profile lawsuits.
In 2017, she successfully completed her father’s lawsuit against former Oakland mayor and police minister John Banks.
Her client, Antony Shaw, took a high court proceeding asking a judge to declare Banks his biological father.
The court agreed, finding Banks to be Shaw’s paternal father and declaring the two to be close relatives.
She also represented SkyCity in 2017 during the indictment of Tessa Grant, who was jailed for seven years for defrauding a casino company and Hamilton’s school for $2.77 million.
According to Lethbridge’s online bio, she has a reputation for “strong, focused, dynamic and effective advocacy and legal representation.”
“She specializes in commercial and civil litigation with a focus on bankruptcy and restructuring, and also has experience in regulatory and serious fraud cases.
“She regularly represents prominent New Zealand and international individuals and commercial organizations with complex, controversial and often unique legal issues.”
Lethbridge has held various board positions and has served on the Auckland Chapter Council, the Auckland Standards Committee and the Auckland District Law Association.
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12556034&ref=rss Law Society Chairman Jack Lethbridge Resigns Following Critical Cultural Review Report