Law firm aims to attract more Māori and Pacific Island graduates

By Numia Ponika-Rangi

Law firm Russell McVeagh wants to attract more Māori and Pacific Island graduates.

For two years now, the law firm has been conducting surveys throughout its business.

Results show that in the past, Māori and Pacifica law students were intimidated by large firms.

For the past two years, law firm Russell McVeagh has been implementing diversity initiatives throughout its business especially focusing on attracting more Māori and Pacific Island graduates.

CEO of the firm Gary McDiarmid says it uncovered some interesting findings.

He says, “A really big one on the ethnicity side, for us, it was the awareness and it came out of the Auckland Law School was that we're a pretty hard place to work for, we were missing out on Māori and Pasifica students.”

Lawyer, Tavake Afeaki says, “I remember back to the late 1980s, firms like Russell McVeagh and others were becoming aware that they needed to have a group of Māori lawyers working in their firms.”

A problem was also encountered with Māori lawyers in high demand.

McDiarmid says, “We had when I joined 1 Māori partner we ended up with 2, both have gone, the trouble is with being in those groups and being highly talented Māori for example is that everyone wants them. “

Russell McVeagh will endeavour to implement their diversity strategies in its approach to recruiting new staff who are passionate and committed to their law careers.

Tavake Afeaki says, “I worked at a huge firm. The large number of lawyers and offices were very intimidating. Where I worked, there were over 250 lawyers. The way they operated was a very different, the workload was huge. Most of them were white.”

McDiarmid says, “We see ourselves as the best in the business so we want the best staff, how that benefits them is us saying to the extent that we're not doing things that encourage them to join us, we're levelling that out saying, we might be a bit of a scary place for some people, how can we make it a less scary place.”