Kieran Pender BA (Hon) '16, LLB (Hon) '18

Off to a flying start
15 July 2019

In the short time since he graduated, Kieran Pender has led the largest global survey on bullying and sexual harassment in the legal profession, and helped establish a scholarship and legal internship opportunities for ANU Law students at the International Bar Association (IBA).

In early 2018, Kieran set off for London to work for the IBA where he was quickly assigned to lead a project related to the #MeToo movement. The largest global survey on bullying and sexual harassment in the legal profession included responses from nearly 7,000 individuals from 135 countries from a spectrum of legal workplaces.

The results provided empirical confirmation that bullying and sexual harassment are rife in the legal profession.  Approximately one in two female respondents and one in three male respondents had been bullied in connection with their employment. One in three female respondents had been sexually harassed in a workplace context, as had one in 14 male respondents.

"The prevalence of this workplace misconduct is unacceptable in any sector," says Kieran. "But it is particularly repugnant in the legal profession, predicated as it is on the highest ethical standards - and responsible for advising other sectors on how they ensure positive work environments."

While still a student at ANU, Kieran was an IARU Global Summer Program scholar at Berkeley and a fellow at the World Bank in Washington DC working to the Vice-Presidency for Integrity (supervised by ANU Alumnus Matt Harvey).  These experiences contributed to his career direction and a passion for whistleblower protections, anti-corruption and employment law.

Kieran's positive experiences at ANU have motivated him to create opportunities for current law students. Together with the College of Law, he has helped establish a scholarship and legal internships at the IBA and hosts ANU law students at their headquarters in London.

Since the publication of Us Too? Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession in May, Kieran has presented the findings in Europe and North America, and will speak in Sydney on 1 August and at ANU on 5 August.  In September, Kieran will speak at the IBA Annual Conference in Seoul, South Korea, along with former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, AC, who wrote the introduction to the report.

Aside from his legal focus, Kieran is also a freelance journalist who began writing for The Guardian on sports when he was just 21.  He has also maintained his connections to campus, as a visiting fellow at the ANU College of Law's Centre for International and Public Law.

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