Legalweek anti-harassment and Operation Safe Spaces task force updates

ALM this week provided an update on the measures it has put in place since its Legalweek conference in New York, following multiple reports of harassment at external events hosted during the conference in January. The announcement follows the creation by Women in eDiscovery this month of a task force called Operation Safe Spaces (OSS) that is looking into steps to create a safer environment at all  conferences, after Legalweek brought the problem to a head.

The measures announced by ALM include:

– Every conference attendee – speaker, sponsor, exhibitor, delegate – must affirm ALM’s anti-harassment policy during conference registration.

– ALM’s anti-harassment policy will be printed on the back of every conference badge.

– ALM is rolling out revised sponsor and exhibitor contract terms and conditions that more strongly state ALM’s anti-harassment stance as it relates to sponsor- and exhibitor-company attendees.

– In advance of its next event in the legal industry, ALM is rolling out a “speak up” app in an effort to deter inappropriate behaviour and facilitate incident reporting.

ALM says it will continue to work internally and with external stakeholders in the community to determine how it can best champion meaningful, positive change for the legal community and address the larger problem in the industry.

ALM began its notification on LinkedIn by saying it had an update on the highly inappropriate behaviour at unaffiliated venues in New York City during Legalweek, referring to the fact that incidences did not happen in the central conference venue. Commenting on the post, Alicia Hawley, of counsel for eDiscovery analysis & technology at K&L Gates and a member of the OSS task force, said: “Positive steps…but REALLY would have loved to have seen this post without the first sentence. Oof.” ALM has previously stressed that the inappropriate behaviour did not happen on site but that it strongly condemns it.

The most serious incident at an event outside of Legalweek this year saw Reveal employee Robert Cruz arrested for allegedly pulling a knife on Altorney co-founder Shimmy Messing, who stepped in to stop his advances on Microsoft employee Stefanie Bier. Cruz was immediately fired by Reveal. The incident was picked up by mainstream news channel NPR. NPR reports that Cruz was not a badged attendee or present at any Legalweek-sanctioned event.

The OSS task force was announced mid-March in response to this and a swell of reports on social media from women who have been harassed at various legal conferences. It will see a very senior group of women from within Women in eDiscovery, conference organisers and other organisations agree new standards and measures to ensure that women are safe in professional gatherings. Some of the members of the task force are listed here.


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