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    Recognize & Avoid
    The Threat of Violence

    What are the signs of a potential threat? What are the likely sources? How can you reduce the risk? Here’s a look at violence against legal professionals and how to prevent it.

    Stephen D. Kelson

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    In March 2017, a husband in a bitter and drawn-out divorce went to his estranged wife’s workplace, where he shot and killed two of her coworkers. A short time later, he shot and killed Sara Quirt Sann, his wife’s attorney, at her north-central Wisconsin law office.

    These terrible events, and Ms. Sann’s work-related death, have shaken the Wisconsin legal community and raised concerns regarding threats and violence against the legal profession. This article provides a brief glimpse into work-related threats and violence against the legal profession and addresses methods to actively prevent and thwart potentially violent situations.

    Recent Acts of Violence Against the Legal Profession

    Violence against the legal profession is often thought of in terms of fatal or near fatal incidents. However, violence and aggression can take many different forms, including physical attacks, assaults, threats, vandalism, and sabotage. Although acts of violence against the legal profession rarely make national headlines, reports in local media outlets provide ample evidence that the legal profession actively suffers from threats and violence.

    Stephen D. Kelsoncom Steve.Kelson chrisjen Stephen D. Kelson is a shareholder in Christensen & Jensen PC, Salt Lake City, Utah. For more than a decade, he has studied, documented, and conducted surveys regarding violence against the legal profession and methods to prevent workplace violence. He focuses his practice on commercial litigation, personal injury, and mediation.

    For example, since 2015, national media groups have reported a number of sensational acts of violence against the legal profession. In Illinois, a Chicago judge was shot and killed outside his home. In Indiana, a family law attorney was targeted, in an alleged murder plot by a woman and her son, with a syringe containing a lethal dose of the anesthetic succinylcholine. In Michigan, an inmate facing sexual assault charges attempted to stab an assistant prosecutor in court with a shank. In Mississippi, an attorney was shot and killed during a deposition. In Oklahoma, an attorney, in self-defense, shot and killed a client who attacked him. In Alabama, a city attorney was shot in the chest while at his office. Also in Alabama, two people were killed in a shooting at an attorney’s office. In Delaware, a man attempted to hire an undercover detective to kill his former defense counsel and a prosecutor. In Texas, a judge was ambushed and shot in front of her home. In Florida, two men were allegedly enlisted to kill a Florida State University law professor.

    At first glance, the number of threats and violence against the legal profession reported by the media might suggest that such incidents are unique and extremely rare. However, these examples reflect only a sampling of recently reported incidents of violence, and represent only a minute fraction of those against the legal profession throughout the 2010s. Contrary to the general perception, many members of the legal profession, including those in Wisconsin, experience threats of violence and actual violence arising from the practice of law.

    Studies of Violence Against the Legal Profession

    Limited research exists on the subject of violence against the legal profession. However, studies do show that violence is regularly directed at the legal profession, and the amount may be increasing. For example, statistics gathered by the U.S. Marshals Service provide troubling information regarding violence against federal judicial officials in the United States. During the 13 fiscal years of 1980 through 1993, there were a total of 3,096 recorded inappropriate communications and threats involving federal judges – an average of 238 per year.1 In comparison, during the seven fiscal years of 2001 through 2007, the U.S. Marshals Service reported a total of 5,657 inappropriate communications or threats – an average of 808 per year.2 The average number of inappropriate communications or threats has dramatically increased since 2007. During the three fiscal years of 2008 through 2010 there were 4,062 inappropriate communications or threats – an estimated average of 1,354 per year.3 In fiscal year 2016 alone, the U.S. Marshals Service reported 2,357 “threats and inappropriate communications against protected court members.”4

    While there is no national method for reporting attacks against the legal profession, analysis has revealed that threats and violence against the legal profession occur frequently at the state and local court levels. To date, the author has conducted 26 statewide surveys, either independently or through state bar associations, regarding threats and violence against the legal profession. The results provide a rare insight into the nature and frequency of work-related threats and violence experienced by in-state/active members of the legal profession, the overwhelming majority of which have never been publicly reported. The results also show that contrary to public perception, members of the bar are not exempt from workplace violence but, in fact, regularly face danger from opposing parties, interested parties, and their own clients, at any place and at any time. See Figure 1: Statewide Surveys of Violence and Threats of Violence Against Attorneys.

    Acts of violence reported by attorneys in these state surveys include numerous shootings, stabbings, assaults, and batteries, as well as vandalism to businesses and personal property. The numerous threats of violence included stalking, phone calls, written letters, emails, texts, online posts, verbal threats of physical violence and death threats, and even attempts to hire contract killers to kill attorneys and judges. The results of each of these state surveys show that violence and threats of violence against members of the legal profession are much more prevalent than reported by the media or commonly perceived by lawyers.

    Respondents to these surveys were asked to identify their primary area of practice. Not surprisingly, criminal defense and prosecution and family law were the areas reporting the most significant threats and violence. However, respondents in other areas of practice, including judicial, corporate/commercial/real estate, general litigation, labor/employment/civil rights, and wills/estates, reported receiving threats and violence.

    Figure 1

    Statewide Surveys of Violence and Threats of Violence Against Attorneys

    Year

    State

    In-State Membership

    Responses

    % In-State
    Membership

    Threats/
    Violence

    %Respondents

    2006

    Utah

    6,832

    904

    13.2

    417

    46.1

    2008

    Idaho

    3,627

    780

    21.5

    319

    40.9

    2012

    Nevada

    8,245

    1,039

    12.6

    412

    40.0

    2012

    Wyoming

    1,639

    467

    28.5

    211

    46.0

    2012

    Oregon

    13,916

    1,862

    13.4

    684

    36.7

    2013

    New Mexico

    6,170

    919

    14.9

    369

    40.0

    2013

    Arizona

    17,383

    1,841

    10.6

    777

    42.2

    2013

    Iowa

    7,329

    1,333

    18.2

    547

    41.0

    2013

    N. Carolina

    21,856

    2,251

    10.3

    732

    32.5

    2013

    Kansas

    8,177

    1,185

    14.5

    480

    40.5

    2014

    Nebraska

    4,937

    286

    6.8

    101

    35.3

    2014

    Michigan

    35,824

    4,219

    11.8

    1,529

    36.2

    2014

    Mississippi

    7,048

    422

    6.0

    195

    46.2

    2014

    N. Dakota

    1,663

    243

    14.6

    113

    46.5

    2015

    Louisiana

    22,257

    1,577

    7.1

    576

    36.5

    2015

    Rhode Island

    4,454

    293

    6.6

    104

    35.5

    2015

    Hawaii

    4,122

    356

    8.6

    134

    37.6

    2015

    Alaska

    2,444

    471

    19.3

    195

    41.4

    2015

    Alabama

    14,509

    1,088

    7.5

    440

    40.4

    2015

    Washington

    25,678

    1,720

    6.6

    756

    44.0

    2015

    Delaware

    2,952

    225

    7.6

    87

    38.7

    2015

    Montana

    3,247

    403

    12.4

    169

    41.9

    2016

    S. Carolina

    12,236

    839

    6.9

    379

    45.2

    2016

    Colorado

    21,739

    1,255

    5.8

    589

    46.9

    2016

    Vermont

    2,213

    240

    10.9

    106

    44.2

    2017

    S. Dakota

    1,968

    223

    11.3

    118

    52.9

    Threats and Violence Against the Wisconsin Legal Profession

    While no survey has yet been conducted regarding threats and violence against the Wisconsin legal profession, it is unrealistic to assume the tragic death of Sara Quirt Sann is a unique occurrence and that something similar will not occur in the future. A summary of 2016 court security incidents reported to the Director of State Courts Office (the “Courts Security Summary”) provides limited but significant insight regarding Wisconsin courthouse security threats and incidents. See Figure 2: 2016 Wisconsin Court Security Incidents.

    The Courts Security Summary indicates that 86 security threats and incidents at Wisconsin courthouses were reported in 2016. While this was a very slight decrease from the number reported in 2014 (88), it was an increase from that reported in 2015 (60). The majority of incidents reported were disorderly behavior (45 percent), followed by threats (34 percent) and physical assault (9 percent). The majority of reported incidents were perpetrated against court staff and buildings (20), followed closely by judges (19). The Courts Security Summary also reported incidents against attorneys (7) and commissioners (7).

    Parties in criminal and juvenile cases were reported to be the most likely sources of court threats and disruption, representing 35 percent of the reported incidents. Where incidents were reported as being associated with a particular case type, criminal cases (39 percent) were reported most often, followed by civil and family cases (28 percent).

    The 26 statewide surveys report that the business office and the courthouse are the most common locations of threats and violence. However, respondents to these surveys reported the occurrence of threats and violence at many other locations, including at home, other attorneys’ offices, jails, public streets, parking lots, restaurants, grocery stores, and the like.

    Figure 2

    2016 Wisconsin Court Security Incidents

    In 2016, Wisconsin courts reported 86 security threats and incidents to the Director of State Courts Office, or an average of seven incidents per month. This marks a slight decrease from the number reported in 2014 (88) and an increase from the 60 reported in 2015. In 2016, Milwaukee County reported the highest number of court security incidents with 28, followed by Dane County with 20. Similar to 2016, the majority of events reported were disorderly behavior (45 percent), followed by threats (34 percent) and physical assault (9 percent).

    Incidents by Type

    • 45% Disorderly Behavior
    • 34% Threat
    • 9% Physical Assault
    • 6% Bomb Threat
    • 6% Other

    Target of Threat

    • 20 Court Staff/Courthouse
    • 19 Judge
    • 12 Other
    • 12 Litigant/Witness
    • 9 Law Enforcement/Security
    • 7 Commissioner
    • 7 Attorney

    Perpetrator of Threat/Incident

    • 35% Criminal/Juvenile Party
    • 34% Noncriminal Party
    • 17% Public Member
    • 11% Family/Friend of Party
    • 7% Other

    Case Type Related to Threat/Incident

    • 39% Criminal
    • 28% Civil/Family
    • 14% Juvenile
    • 13% Not Related to Case
    • 4% Mental Health
    • 2% Probate

    Preventive Strategies

    Taking steps to protect oneself in the event of potential violence is just as important as recognizing the threat of potential violence. Failing to take steps to prevent violence can have dire consequences, including injury, stress, and deterioration of work performance, morale, and general wellness. Taking proactive steps to prevent violence can avoid potential long-lasting effects.

    Whether one works in a large firm, a government office, or a private office, legal professionals can implement relatively inexpensive and simple measures to anticipate and prevent potentially violent situations. These should include 1) preparing and actively reviewing action plans to summon assistance when necessary; 2) controlling access to the work environment; 3) developing notification procedures in case of a violent situation; 4) knowing how to defuse a potentially violent situation; and 5) recognizing the exceptional occasions when physical action may be a necessary solution.

    Recognize the Signs of Potential Threats and Violence

    When legal professionals become the focus of violence, they can potentially become victims of work-related threats and violence at any place, at any time. Although it is unrealistic to assume that all threats and violence against the legal profession can be prevented, there are several useful methods legal professionals can employ to avoid and prevent potential violence from clients, opposing parties, nonparties, and even from other attorneys. Tailoring such methods to the needs, resources, and circumstances, and proper application, can help reduce the potential of violence and help prevent acts of violence from occurring. Two methods used to recognize warning signs of potential violence are the Profile Model and the Signs of Danger Model.

    Profile Model. The identification of risk factors associated with violent behavior is rooted in a large body of research and can alert an attorney of potential threats.5 Although the term “profile” carries a very negative connotation, this model assists to create a biographical sketch as a means of detecting potentially violent individuals based on their patterns and behavior, and it should not be discounted.

    Characteristics or behavioral warning signs of workplace violence from a potentially lethal individual include the following: 1) an 80-97 percent likelihood that the perpetrator will be male; 2) most likely between the ages of 30 and 60; 3) socially isolated or a “loner,” living alone for many years, or recently having changed job locations; 4) suffers severe financial problems or domestic turmoil (especially of long-standing duration); 5) has experienced one or more directly linked triggering events before acting violently (in almost all legal profession situations, these experiences will be directly related to the case the attorney is involved in); 6) continually blames others for problems and is unwilling to take responsibility for one’s own actions; 7) has a history of violent behavior; 8) exhibits one or more key behavioral warning signs that are considered to be general predictors of violence, such as a history of violent behavior or alcohol or other drug dependency; 9) has a preoccupation with weapons; 10) seeks to intimidate others; and 11) makes threats.6

    Admittedly, drawing up a conclusive profile depends on the amount of contact with a particular individual: the less time spent with a person, the more difficult it may be to notice warning signs. However, during interactions, legal professionals should be alert for such characteristics and seek to recognize the signs of potential violence.

    Signs of Danger Model. Studies have shown that warning signs foreshadowed 85 percent of all workplace violence.7 The purpose of the Signs of Danger Model is to train oneself to recognize signs of dangerous stress in individuals, particularly those who have already made threats. Relevant and practical questions to consider after an individual has made a threat include:

    • Has an intent or plan to harm been expressed?

    • Does the individual have the means to carry out the threat?

    • Has the individual displayed or practiced with a weapon?

    • What is the individual’s record of discipline for misconduct?

    • Is there turmoil in the individual’s personal life?

    • Has the individual considered harming himself or attempted to do so?8

    This basic analysis can assist legal professionals to recognize the possibility of violence from an individual and determine what steps should reasonably be taken to prevent additional threats or to prevent the individual from fulfilling the threat.

    Preparation and Training

    Every attorney’s office, large or small, should have a written workplace violence policy statement setting forth preventive practices [see Figure 3: State Bar of Wisconsin Administrative Procedures Guide] or a personal action plan to deal with violence [see Figure 4: State Bar of Arizona Emergency Security Procedures]. The action plan should establish strategies to deal with potential violence and identify which kinds of acts will not be tolerated. Legal professionals and their staff should develop a plan to recognize early warning signs of potential violence and the proper methods to address or defuse them. The action plan should do more than simply focus on what takes place inside the office; it should also address what to do when potentially violent situations occur outside the office.

    Figure 3

    State Bar of Wisconsin Emergency Procedures

    The following emergency procedures are excerpted from the State Bar of Wisconsin Administrative Procedures Guide. In addition to emergency procedures when faced with a threat of violence or an active shooter situation, the extensive guide includes general office procedures, operating procedures, print/mail/delivery procedures, meeting room procedures, and more.

    Every attorney’s office, large or small, should have a written workplace violence policy statement setting forth preventive practices or a personal action plan to deal with violence. Feel free to adapt the following procedures to your own circumstances.

    EMERGENCY PROCEDURES

    Physical Danger in the Lobby

    The duress button [insert location] will signal for the police when activated. If there is a threatening situation in the lobby, this device is to be activated.

    Remote Duress Buttons

    These are located at the reception desk and may be signed out by staff who are working after hours and are alone in the building. If activated, these devices will signal for the police. The devices will also work in the parking lot. Staff working late at night are encouraged to carry a device with them to their car when they are leaving and return it the next morning.

    Receptionist Needs Assistance With a Visitor

    The receptionist will page twice for [insert ER phrase or pseudonym] to come to the lobby. Several staff have been assigned to come to the lobby when this page is heard. When one of these assigned staff comes to the lobby, the employee is to talk with the visitor to solve his or her problem.

    Active Shooter Response Procedures

    An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to the selection of their victims.

    Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.

    If an active shooter event should occur, State Bar of Wisconsin employees shall use the Avoid | Deny | Defend™ model, developed by the ALERRT Center at Texas State University:

    • If it is safe for them to do so, employees should exit the facility immediately to AVOID the shooters.

    • If employees are unable to safely exit the facility, they should lock themselves in their current location and barricade the door to DENY the shooters’ access.

    • If employees are unable to use the AVOID and DENY strategies successfully, they should DEFEND themselves using whatever means are available.

    Regardless of the options used, employees shall call emergency services (911) as soon as it is safe to do so.

    In the event of an active shooter incident, all employees will be required to undergo mandatory counseling coordinated through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

    During an act of violence (e.g. robbery, hostage situation, workplace violence, active shooter):

    AVOID starts with your state of mind.

    • Pay attention to your surroundings; identify possible exits.

    • Have an escape route and plan in mind.

    • Move away from the source of the threat as quickly as possible.

    • The more distance and barriers between you and the threat, the better.

    • Leave your belongings behind.

    • Help others escape, if possible.

    • Keep your hands visible.

    • Do not attempt to move wounded people.

    • Follow the instructions of police officers.

    • Activate the emergency duress device.

    • Announce “active shooter” via the paging system by dialing [insert number].

    • Call 911 when you are safe.

    DENY when getting away is difficult or maybe even impossible.

    • Keep distance between you and the source.

    • Create barriers to prevent or slow down a threat from getting to you.

    • Lock the door.

    • Block the door with heavy furniture.

    • Turn the lights off.

    • Do not cast shadows under doors.

    • Silence your cell phone.

    • Turn off any source of noise.

    • Remain out of sight and quiet by hiding behind large objects.

    • Do not huddle together and create easy targets for the shooter.

    DEFEND because you have the right to protect yourself.

    If you cannot Avoid or Deny be prepared to defend yourself.

    • Be aggressive and committed to your actions.

    • Do not fight fairly. THIS IS ABOUT SURVIVAL.

    • Act as aggressively as possible against him or her.

    • Throw items and improvise weapons.

    • Yell.

    When law enforcement arrives,
    SHOW YOUR HANDS AND FOLLOW COMMANDS.

    How to Respond When Law Enforcement Arrives:

    Law enforcement’s purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were fired. Officers may wear regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, helmets, and other tactical equipment. They may be armed with rifles, shotguns, handguns and may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation. Officers may shout commands and may push individuals to the ground for safety.

    When law enforcement arrives:

    • Remain calm, and follow officer’s instructions.

    • Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets, improvised weapons).

    • Immediately raise hands and spread fingers.

    • Keep hands visible at all times.

    • Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as holding on to them for safety.

    • Avoid pointing, screaming, and yelling.

    • Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction while evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises.

    Information to provide law enforcement or 911 operator:

    • Location of the active shooter.

    • Number of shooters, if more than one.

    • Physical description of shooter/s.

    • Number and type of weapons held by the shooter/s.

    • Number of potential victims at the location.

    The first officers to arrive to the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.

    Once you have reached a safe location or assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control, and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.

    For more information on Avoid | Deny | Defend™, visit AvoidDenyDefend.org.

    Control Access

    Legal professionals should work to ensure that access to their offices and buildings is secure. Many large firms across the country have adopted security measures to prevent individuals from accessing their offices except through a main entrance, which allows for screening of individuals. Similar measures can be accomplished in any small office. Keep staff informed about perceived threats and those individuals who are not to be admitted into the office. Once an individual enters the office, he or she should not be allowed to wander about unescorted, and if an individual begins to do so, staff should be immediately notified.

    News articles show that courthouses are often the scene of violence against governmental attorneys. Although many courthouses have building security, x-ray machines, and metal detectors to screen individuals who enter, attorneys and judges should not blindly rely on these protections. In the comings and goings of many small-town courts and county courts, attorneys and their clients are often allowed easy access into buildings and, occasionally, into restricted parts of buildings. If this is occurring, alert the court administrator and court security about the problem.

    Notification and Assistance

    If an individual becomes threatening, whether in an attorney’s office or in a courthouse, legal professionals should not hesitate to summon assistance before the threats can escalate into violence. Offices can use code words or phrases to summon help and, to react quickly, legal professionals and staff should have emergency numbers programmed into their phones. Many courthouses have panic buttons or security staff who can call for immediate assistance. Attorneys and their staff should also have a notification system in case of imminent or potential violence. Many respondents to the statewide surveys regarding threats and violence identified incidents in which code words enabled attorneys and staff to avoid a violent individual and contact authorities.

    Be proactive in preventing violence against others. When an attorney does not inform others about potential violence, whether it is from direct verbal or physical threats or from other signs of potential threats, that attorney places himself or herself and others at risk. Many respondents to the statewide surveys reported incidents in which opposing counsel prevented serious harm and tragedies by calling and warning authorities and opposing counsel of known, imminent threats of violence.

    A commonly reported time and location that threats and violence occur against legal professionals is following contentious court hearings when attorneys and their clients have left the courtroom or courthouse. If you have reason to believe a potential threat of violence exists, notify court personnel and security, ask for an escort to your vehicle, or wait in a safe location until it is verified that the potential perpetrator has left.

    Figure 4

    State Bar of Arizona Emergency Security Procedures

    These very practical tips are excerpted with permission from the State Bar of Arizona’s Emergency Security Procedures.

    Coping with Threats and Violence

    For an angry or hostile customer or coworker:

    • Stay calm. Listen attentively.

    • Maintain eye contact.

    • Be courteous. Be patient.

    • Keep the situation in your control.

    For a person shouting, swearing, and threatening:

    • Signal a coworker, or supervisor, that you need help. (Use a duress alarm system or rearranged code word.)

    • Do not make any calls yourself.

    • Have someone call a guard or 911.

    For someone threatening you with a gun, knife, or other weapon:

    • Stay calm. Quietly signal for help. (Use a duress alarm or code word.)

    • Maintain eye contact.

    • Stall for time.

    • Keep talking – but follow instructions from the person who has the weapon.

    • Don’t risk harm to yourself or others.

    • Never try to grab a weapon.

    • Watch for a safe chance to escape to a safe area.

    Hostile Intruder

    • Do not sound the fire alarm.

    • Lock the windows and close blinds or curtains.

    • Stay away from windows.

    • Turn off lights and all audio equipment.

    • Keep everyone together.

    • Keep office secure until police arrive and give you directions.

    • If you are not in an office, try to get to an office.

    • Stay out of open areas and be as quiet as possible.

    Don’t Be an Easy Target

    It might appear obvious that one should avoid potential violence. However, legal professionals, especially those involved in criminal and domestic proceedings, regularly interact with individuals whose past indicates a likelihood of causing harm. They can become accustomed to the presence of hostile individuals and ignore, or fail to recognize, potentially dangerous situations when in more vulnerable locations or circumstances. If you leave a secure location and find an adversarial party or known troubled individual waiting for you, don’t ignore the situation. Attempt to avoid a confrontation, and return to the secure location where there is greater safety. Once in a safe location, assess the situation and take steps to warn others and inform the proper authorities.

    Legal professionals, like many people, are often prone to following set schedules and habits. They routinely leave and return home at set times, drive the same route to and from work, arrive and leave work at a set time, park in the same spots at work or at the courthouse, and so on. Legal professionals who work in contentious practice areas, receive threats, or are aware of a potential threat or violence should break up the routine. In the statewide surveys, many reported incidents of threats and violence involved circumstances in which perpetrators appeared to know their victim’s daily routine and were lying in wait for them along the way.

    Defuse the Situation

    If trapped in a potentially violent situation, it is essential to remember that it is better to attempt to defuse a situation than to allow it to escalate. To do so, stay calm; speak gently, slowly, and clearly; do not be enticed into an argument; do not hide behind your authority; try to talk things through as reasonable adults; avoid an aggressive stance; keep your distance and avoid looking or speaking down to the aggressor; and do not touch the person.9 Attempt to escape the dangerous environment by encouraging the potentially dangerous individual to move aside; keep your eye on potential escape routes; and never turn your back – move backward gradually to leave.10

    Responding to a potentially violent situation with a calming presence is more effective than responding with aggression. Responding with aggression, a raised voice, or an argumentative position emotionally increases the perceived conflict, anger, and desire to harm or punish and increases the potential of immediate or delayed violence.

    Physical Response: The Last Resort

    Escape should always be the primary goal in a violent situation, and physically responding to violence should be the very last resort. Confronting violence with a physical response puts the attorney in direct danger and is not recommended. While self-defense training is always a good idea, it is unrealistic to assume that legal professionals will seek such training or be proficient enough to be effective. However, if there is no other choice but to respond to an attack, an attorney should not do more than is necessary to protect himself or herself. Physically restraining the individual is the recommended solution when possible and if it can be safely accomplished.

    Conclusion

    This discussion is provided to help legal professionals recognize and avoid potential violence. The accompanying sidebars give readers tools for this planning and discussion.

    Wisconsin legal professionals should not discount the reality that work-related threats and violence can come from any side of a given case and can occur beyond the courthouse and office and regardless of one’s area of practice. Recognizing the reality of potential violence in the practice of law is a first step in helping to avoid and prevent becoming the victim of work-related violence. The benefits of knowledge and preparation vastly outweigh the potential costs. Applying the relatively simple and feasible preventive steps can assist to actively avoid and prevent violent situations before they can occur.

    Meet Our Contributors

    What drew you to the study of violence against the law profession?

    Stephen D. KelsonIn 1997, after my first year of law school, I interned for the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) in South Africa, researching the role of the judiciary under the apartheid system and attending hearings held by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). In part, my research involved threats and violence against the legal profession under apartheid.

    During the third year of law school, I wrote my major writing project about threats and violence against the U.S. legal profession. While I found numerous media articles about acts of violence against the legal profession, there was very little discussion about the issue and few statistics. Since 2006, 26 statewide surveys have been conducted at the state level to examine and help address violence against the legal profession and to establish a baseline for future research.

    com Steve.Kelson chrisjen Stephen D. Kelson, Christensen & Jensen PC, Salt Lake City, Utah.

    Become a contributor! Are you working on an interesting case? Have a practice tip to share? There are several ways to contribute to Wisconsin Lawyer. To discuss a topic idea, contact Managing Editor Karlé Lester at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6127, or email org klester wisbar wisbar klester org. Check out our writing and submission guidelines.

    Endnotes

    1 Frederick S. Calhoun, Hunters and Howlers: Threats and Violence Against Federal Judicial Officials in the United States, 1789-1993, 51 (U.S. Marshals Service, 1998).

    2 See Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Marshals Service, Pub. No. 23, Facts and Figures at a Glance (2002); Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Marshals Service, Pub. No. 23, Facts and Figures at a Glance (2003); Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Marshals Service, Pub. No. 21-B, Facts and Figures at a Glance (2004); Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Marshals Service, Pub. No. 21-D, Facts and Figures at a Glance (2005); Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Marshals Service, Pub. No. 21-D, Facts and Figures at a Glance (2006); Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Marshals Service, Pub. No. 21-D, Facts and Figures at a Glance (2007); see also U.S. Marshals Service: Judicial and Court Security.

    3 See Alan Silverleib, Report: Threats Against Federal Judges, Prosecutors Rise Sharply, CNN.com, Jan. 4, 2010; U.S. Marshals Service, Judicial Security (2009); The Third Branch: Ensuring Safety and Security: An Interview with the Director of the U.S. Marshals Service, March 2011; The Third Branch/11-03-01/Ensuring_Safety_and Security_An_Interview_with_the_Director_of_the _U_S_Marshals_Service.aspz; U.S. Judicial Security, Judicial Security (2011).

    4 See Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Marshals Service, Fact Sheet: Judicial Security (2017).

    5 Christina E. Newhill, Client Violence in Social Work Practice: Prevention, Intervention, and Research 116 (2003).

    6 Michael D. Kelleher, Profiling the Lethal Employee: Case Studies of Violence in The Workplace 31 (1997); see also Daya Sandhu, Faces of Violence: Psychological Correlates, Concepts and Intervention Strategies 10-11 (2001).

    7 Kevin Grauberger, Workplace Violence – How Employers Can Avoid Taking a Beating, Kansas Employment L. Letter, Vol. 4, No. 6 (Sept. 1997), at 4.

    8 Richard V. Denenberg & Mark Braverman, The Violence-Prone Workplace: A New Approach to Dealing with Hostile, Threatening and Uncivil Behavior 156 (ILR Press 1999).

    9 Duncan Chappell & Vittorio Di Marini, Violence at Work 118-19 (2000).

    10 Id. at 119.