Half of lawyers face threats, aggression, intimidation
Half of the lawyers in the Netherlands faced aggression, threats, or intimidation in the past year, mostly from their own clients. A fifth of lawyers who experienced this are considering quitting their job, NRC reports based on a study commissioned by the Dutch Bar Association (Nova).
The researchers questioned over a thousand lawyers, who form a representative reflection of the over 18,000 lawyers in the Netherlands.
Of the lawyers surveyed, 41 percent experienced verbal aggression in the past year, 34 percent intimidation, 18 percent threats, and 4 percent physical violence. This includes cases where people showed up at the lawyer’s home or a client assaulted them after bad news. Four in ten lawyers experienced multiple incidents.
Nova board member Jeroen Soeteman is “shocked, but not surprised” by the results. “We have noticed for a long time that there seems to be an increase in aggression against lawyers,” he said to the newspaper.
The researchers found that bankruptcy administrators and criminal defense lawyers most often face aggression. Family law lawyers also frequently deal with aggression, intimidation, and threats. According to Soeteman, this makes sense as these lawyers are active in areas of the law that profoundly affect people’s lives. These lawyers deal with cases in which people’s business, freedom, or contact with their children are at stake, for example.
The lawyers’ clients or former clients are most often the sources of aggression, in 50 percent of the cases. The other party or family members and acquaintances of clients or the other party are also common culprits.
Only 5 percent of incidents were reported to the police in the past year. Lawyers often consider the incidents not severe enough or consider it part of their job. “That is not a good way of thinking, and it is risky,” Soeteman said to NRC.