Most Netherlands lawyers threatened, abused by clients

A massive 74 percent of lawyers in the Netherlands had to deal with aggression and threats at least once, almost double that of a decade ago, according to a survey done by Advocatenblad. Most of the threats and aggression come from their own clients, AD reports.

Most cases involve verbal abuse, such as name calling and death threats. But a quarter of the lawyers faced physical violence. The Dutch Bar Association finds this shocking. "Violence must never become part of the job", general dean Bart van Tongeren said to the newspaper. "Lawyers have a special position, which revolves around getting nonviolent solutions. We do not tolerate that."

Van Tongeren attributes the increase mainly to the hardening of society. "The violence is part of a larger pattern, in other places in society violence is also becoming more commonplace."

Lawyer Stefan van Paridon, whose client threatened to stab him on one occasion, thinks that the legal profession's outdated regulations also play a role. "If you are threatened by a client, you should be able to immediately withdraw from that case. Currently this can only be done through a lengthy procedure, and clients know it too. If they know they can lose their attorney, some would think three times."