We may be a professional, driven, achievement orientated law firm but we take our corporate and social responsibilities very seriously. Russell McVeagh is active in looking after both its staff and the wider community.
The motivation for Russell McVeagh’s long standing community involvement was not to seek publicity or try to look good to our clients. Members of the firm genuinely want to “give back” and take a wider responsibility for the community in which we work and live. In fact in the past we have chosen not to “showcase” our community involvement. However, we have come to realise that talking about our efforts may help encourage other organisations and individuals to give back to the community in similar ways.
Pro Bono Work
Employing some of New Zealand's most able lawyers, the firm is well positioned to give back to local and national groups, and it does so in generous measure.
Russell McVeagh has engaged in pro bono activities for much of the firm's history. The current Chair of our pro bono committee is Wellington-based partner James Every-Palmer.
• At Community Law Centres
Since the 1980s Russell McVeagh's Auckland office has had a formal arrangement with the Mangere Law Centre to provide pro bono assistance on a one person, one day per week basis. While there is no compulsion on our lawyers to participate, we never have a problem finding volunteers who all report huge personal satisfaction in being able to make a difference to those who otherwise have no access to legal counsel. Our Wellington office has a similar arrangement with the Wellington Law Centre. As well as the obvious benefits to those who we are able to help, our lawyers also gain greatly from the experience.
We also represent a wide range of organisations including:
• ZEALANDIA & the Karori Sanctuary Trust
ZEALANDIA is an award-winning conservation attraction managed by the internationally-acclaimed Karori Sanctuary Trust. It demonstrates science, technology and the community working together to create a safe haven for native wildlife and a centre of excellence for conservation education. Only 2 km from the centre of Wellington, ZEALANDIA comprises 225 hectares of regenerating native forest where native wildlife including kaka, tuatara and the little spotted kiwi are protected by a predator proof fence that surrounds the 8.2 kilometre perimeter.
Russell McVeagh assisted with obtaining the consents to establish ZEALANDIA, and also recently advised on construction for the Sanctuary's interactive visitor centre.
• Cure Kids
Cure Kids is the face of the Child Health Research Foundation - an organisation established over 30 years ago to address the lack of research into life-threatening childhood illnesses in New Zealand.
In that time Cure Kids has invested over $13 million in medical research. This research has helped save hundreds of young lives and has improved the quality of life for thousands of children.
Russell McVeagh acts as pro bono counsel for Cure Kids. In addition, several of our staff have competed in the Accor $10 race to Queenstown, the proceeds of which benefits Cure Kids, as well as other fundraising activities.
• New Zealand Film Festival Trust
The Film Festival Trust has been organising festivals throughout New Zealand since the 1970s. From small beginnings festivals now operate in the following centres: Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Gisborne, Greymouth, Hamilton, Levin, Masterton, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Queenstown, Tauranga, Wellington and Whangarei. The Festival Trust has a long tradition of supporting New Zealand film-makers.
Russell McVeagh has provided pro bono assistance to the Trust in connection with film classification issues.
• Environmental Defence Society
A New Zealand based environmental advocacy organisation, EDS is a New Zealand Incorporated Society operating primarily as a network of professional people who are prepared to assist the Society to undertake its work on a voluntary basis, together with a community of people who support the Society financially through their membership.
The Society identifies the issues it wishes to pursue. These need to be of at least national scope in their impact, or in their potential to set either precedents or policy.
Their main areas for action are: landscape protection, biodiversity and climate change.
Russell McVeagh assists the Society from time to time on certain specific projects.
• Springboard Trust
The Trust aims to provide professional assistance to not for profit organisations in the social sector to allow them to grow and achieve their goals more readily. The lack of available professional expertise, including legal expertise, was identified as a key obstacle to organisations in the social sector achieving their desired ends. Since its inception, the Trust has provided assistance to the First Foundation which provides financial aid to disadvantaged students.
Russell McVeagh provides legal advice to the Trust and also assists Youthlaw, a not for profit legal services provider to under 25s, supported by the Trust on a non-financial basis.
• Friends of Auckland Women's Refuge Charitable Trust
Women’s Refuge is an independent community organisation established primarily to provide safety and protection for women and their children who are victims of domestic violence. Its services currently include a 24 hour crisis phone line; 24 hour access to emergency accommodation; confidential listening and support; home visits; advocacy support; education and support groups for women and children about living free of violence; childcare programmes; and training on family violence awareness.
Russell McVeagh's involvement includes the establishment of the Friends of Auckland Women's Refuge Charitable Trust and ongoing legal advice.
• World Vision
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome extreme poverty and injustice. Russell McVeagh has provided pro bono assistance to World Vision for some years, and is involved in assisting them with donor agreements, and contracts in connection with their well known fundraising initiative, the 40 hour famine, as well as other initiatives, such as arranging for people to visit their sponsored child or community. Provision of pro bono legal services to World Vision allows them to devote more of their income to their charitable purpose.
• The Breast Cancer Research Trust
In partnership with the New Zealand community, The Breast Cancer Research Trust is committed to searching for radical results for a new, brighter, breast cancer-free future.
The ultimate goal of the Trust is to raise enough money to find a cure for breast cancer, not just in our lifetime but in the next decade.
The Breast Cancer Research Trust are New Zealand's only not-for-profit organisation established solely to fund research into a cure for breast cancer. The Trust, a voluntary organisation, has gone from a $50,000 a year research fund in 1997 to having a goal of raising $5 million every year to achieve their cure objective.
Their objective is to ensure that the funds raised are used in the most effective way possible to help achieve the radical results needed through their research projects. Funds raised are allocated to only the most outstanding and visionary research and researchers in New Zealand without restriction to any one institution their only vested interest being knowledge and breakthroughs in both clinical and genetic research that move closer towards a new, brighter, breast cancer-free future.
• So They Can
So They Can is an international charity, based in Kenya, which works with communities to enable them to become self-sufficient. So They Can are currently working alongside the Nakuru Pipeline Community operating, among other things, the Aberdare Ranges Primary School, Orphanage and Healthcare clinic for the benefit of Internally Displaced Persons. Russell McVeagh has provided a full range of legal advice to the New Zealand arm of So They Can, including drafting constitutional documents, assistance with administrative applications and tax advice. Our pro bono contribution to their legal costs has enabled them to maximise their charitable work in New Zealand.
• South Auckland Health Foundaion
South Auckland Health Foundation is a registered charitable trust that supports and raises funds for the health services provided by Counties Manukau District Health Board. Established in 1999, it works to supplement government support by raising funds for the extra features that help to enhance the health services delivered by the District Health Board to the communities of Counties Manukau. The Foundation supports both hospital and community-based initiatives with a special emphasis on projects that benefit children and families.
Russell McVeagh has an established relationship with the Foundation after assisting them with a number of projects.
Our legal representation and advice is given to organisations that run the gamut from tourism, education arts, healthcare, environment, sports and recreation, history and education.
Other pro bono clients include:
Save the Children Fund NZ
Spirit of Adventure Trust Board
National Maritime Museum
The Halberg Trust
Knowledge Wave Trust
Knox Home Trust
St Andrews Village
Myers Rowing Academy
Auckland College of Education
Children First Foundation
Youth Suicide Awareness
Len Lye Foundation
Team New Zealand
Summer Clerk Community Work
Every year, Russell McVeagh summer clerks undertake voluntary work as part of their induction and orientation to the firm. In 2012, our summer clerks spent the day at Tawharanui Regional Park digging up thistles and other plants in an aid to keep the reserve beautiful.
Russell McVeagh takes seriously the concept of corporate citizenship and social responsibility. We are cognisant that we do all leave a footprint on this world. We combine this consciousness with a determination to give back to the wider community in which we operate.
With our employees
Russell McVeagh does not knowingly deal with organisations that do not have good employment practices.
Russell McVeagh has an EEO policy; a recruitment policy; an open door policy; and various policies, structures and mechanisms in place to address and resolve potential relationship problems within the workforce. All policies are provided to employees on employment and are available at all times through our intranet. Our formal employment provisions include leave and other provisions that go well beyond statutory requirements.
In terms of remuneration, we compensate at an appropriate level for the nature of the work undertaken. We also have a structure established in terms of exceptional performance. There are a variety of awards available to recognise exceptional performance. Our policy is to reward on merit.
The firm is heavily committed to training. We value it highly and accordingly spend more per capita on training than any other law firm in Australasia. Within our training team we have a staff development policy and a study policy. Our training team includes IT trainers as well as a full time team responsible for legal and other training. Within our practice groups, and other administrative groups managers and other designated personnel have a defined responsibility for both internal and external training of their teams.
Health and safety and employee well being
As well as documented health and safety policies for the workplace, Russell McVeagh has a committee established with responsibility for health and safety issues both in a reactive and preventative sense. Health and safety is a part of all employee inductions. The firm offers subsidised gym memberships, a qualified health nurse on site two days a week, and a sabbatical to lawyers available after certain tenure at the firm. Russell McVeagh also offers training on health and wellness and makes available to all staff a number of options to assist with competing priorities on one's time. Where possible the firm makes every effort to facilitate and accommodate work life balance and will explore flexible working practices such as working from home and part time work, among others.
Impact on the environment
At Russell McVeagh we do work closely with our building management in both Auckland and Wellington to achieve a responsible approach to the environment. Our Auckland premises, at the Vero Centre, were chosen for a variety of reasons including its commitment to conservation and sustainability. The Vero Centre has won an award for energy efficiency. Building management at Vero has a commitment to this and ongoing efforts including an extensive recycling programme. Building management works with building tenants to facilitate their efforts in this regard. We encourage the initiatives of our employees in this area and have provided logistical support to a recycling effort on the part of our Wellington staff for some years.
Within Russell McVeagh recycling of paper is both facilitated and encouraged. Recycling of IT hardware and all technical equipment is both planned for and managed by our IT team.
Our offices operate on zone lighting with individual office controls to minimise electricity wastage and provide more control. We run electricity saving campaigns particularly in winter to encourage conservation of resources. The firm's after hours air conditioning is controlled and is available on request. We recycle bottles and cans and make recycling bins available for these items, as well as encouraging recycling and shredding of paper.
We encourage the use of alternative transport means - for example, free bike parking spaces are provided in the building to employees. We do not offer company vehicles and encourage car pooling where possible, such as to the airport or to the office. Air travel is made when necessary and the firm has invested in video and audio teleconferencing equipment to attempt to eliminate unnecessary travel.
All firm printers operate on powersave mode and networked printers are the norm, rather than one printer per individual. Desktop faxing is available. Printing of documents in two sided mode is encouraged on all printers. We utilise glass coffee cups to reduce the need for throwaway cups and our on site caterers are encouraged to recycle as well as to use environmentally friendly cleaning and other products.
Mentoring - NaeNae College
Wellington Russell McVeagh staff run a mentoring scheme with NaeNae College students, engendering self-belief and inspiring personal challenges. The scheme has included numerous visits, presentations, workshops, and supporting NaeNae's excellent sporting teams!
Russell McVeagh has for some years been the sole sponsor of secondary schools debating in New Zealand through the New Zealand Schools Debating Council, which, since its establishment in 1988, has worked to promote debating in secondary schools. The Council is responsible for Regional Championships that are held throughout New Zealand in Terms I and II of the school year.
Every year in Wellington, the best debaters from around New Zealand gather for the Russell McVeagh National Secondary Schools Debating Championships. There are five rounds of debating, two prepared rounds and three impromptu rounds. The top four teams go through to the semi-finals, the winners of which meet at the Grand Final, usually held in the Legislative Council Chamber of Parliament and are supported by key politicians as well as the Governor-General, patron of the New Zealand Schools Debating Council.
The Championships showcase schools debating in New Zealand over an intense but fun four days. As well as the debating, the Championships include an opening evening at the office of Russell McVeagh, a formal championships dinner with a humorous awards ceremony, and a quiz night.
World Schools Debating Championships
At the National Championships, the four best debaters are chosen to represent at the World Schools Debating Championships, usually held in January each year. The team's attendance at this international competition is also sponsored by Russell McVeagh.
For more information about regional competitions and national debating, please go to:
University Debating Competition
Russell McVeagh sponsors the University Debating Competition (the “Joynt Scroll” competition).
Russell McVeagh offers comprehensive scholarships for all rounders at both school and university level for students who intend to or currently study law. The scholarship programme offers not only significant financial benefits but includes mentoring and practical experience opportunities. A great start for any budding lawyer. Click here to read more on the Russell McVeagh Law Scholarship Programme.