The USU has recently been working across the legal industry to raise awareness of the issue of serious bullying and harassment, particularly of young lawyers who are new to the industry. Multiple members have come forward to the USU to tell their stories, and the picture they have painted shows a grim reality of the legal sector.

One of our members has recently used her Linkd’In profile to tell her story. Young lawyer Stefanie Costi has spoken out about the level of harassment and bullying she experienced first hand as a lawyer at one of her previous employers. The bullying Stefanie experienced included being forced to undertake humiliating tasks requested by senior partners in front of colleagues, ongoing and regular verbal abuse from senior partners and colleagues, and extreme volumes of work deliberately designed to try and ‘break’ her or silence her. As she began to speak out about these experiences, she found her colleagues to be unsupportive at best, and active participants in the bullying at worst, including being told to “mute her mouth” and to “be more resilient” in her practice of law.

Stefanie’s story is unfortunately not unique, and represents just the tip of a very deep iceberg of the toxic workplace culture that exists in the Australian Legal Profession. The challenges we will face in changing this culture and making the Profession a safe place to work, particularly for our incoming and young lawyers will be immense, but the USU is committed strongly to fighting for change across the profession. Joining us in this fight is Upper House MP and USU member Mark Buttigieg. Mark recently gave a speech in NSW Parliament, telling Stefanie’s story and putting the profession on notice that we will be active in seeking change across the sector. The USU will be working closely in the coming months with Mark, Stefanie, and other activists to campaign for change across the legal profession.

Have you experienced workplace bullying in the legal profession? The USU wants to hear from you. If you would like to share your story and help us campaign to change the culture of the profession, please contact USU Organiser Peter Munford via email at