Do Attorneys Need Security

Saturday was a terrible day for Arizona and for our entire country.  A woman, by all accounts a good person and a strong public servant, was seriously injured.  Other innocent individuals have died, including a child and a Judge. A discussion about how much security Members of Congress need is unavoidable and necessary.

But what about security in other professions?

I am an attorney, I have been involved in activism, I have seen emotions run very hot, been screamed at from across the street, testified in court.  As a result, as I reflect on Saturday I cannot help wondering how much security attorneys need given the strange times in which we find ourselves. I am not concerned about my safety, I rarely practice and haven’t been involved in activism for years. However, from time to time,  I worry about colleagues who handle the more emotional areas of legal practice.

My mind this morning turned to a colleague I had while I was in law school.  As many law students will I worked as a clerk for a variety of attorneys to pay my way through school.  One was a family law sole practitioner, known through town as the only individual allowed to ride her horse into a certain bar.  I’ll call her M.

M would hire me to help her with briefs, organizes her trial folders, what have you.  After I graduated she called me from time to time to ask if I would help with a case, or simply to check in.  The last call I had from her was one telling me she was leaving the practice of law.

Since M was by no means young I wasn’t surprised she was retiring, but the dejection in her voice startled me.  M explained that she had just gone through a terrifying several days.  Her client’s husband had threatened not only M’s client, but M.  He blamed M for the divorce, the custody issues, the settlement, and he planned on killing her.  Wife had been murdered, husband was missing, the police couldn’t find him.  M was kept in a secure location for the duration of the event.  In the end the husband killed himself.  M told me that she had been threatened before, this experience was the last she could take and so she was leaving practice and moving away.  There was nothing I could say except to express my horror and sympathy.  I certainly didn’t blame M for wanting to retire.

Lay people generally don’t like dealing with the legal system. They find it difficult and upsetting, even in the simplest of cases. Add in the emotions that come with a divorce or criminal case and even the most seemingly stable of people can lose their senses and do terrible things.

The question arises then, do attorneys need to worry about their security?  Do those in family and criminal practice, those areas of extreme emotional stress, need to worry more?  What about in bankruptcy cases, so common these days?  The attorney for the bank repossessing a house?

The only security I know involves keeping a computer or a network safe.  I cannot speak to physical security other than what I have seen in movies.  But ever since M called and told me about her experience I from time to time find myself wondering about those cases were instability meets the legal system and tragedy occurs.

What do I think about having security?  Personally I think that security, especially in those practice areas where people are likely to become very angry, is a necessity.  I would certainly suggest it wise to secure your life and your office at least as well as you secure your home.  An alarm system for the office, being aware or your surroundings as you walk down the street,  so on and so forth. Perhaps a call to a security expert would be a good idea.  Paranoia is not useful, but wisdom and caution are.

My thoughts go out to the families of all those involved in Saturday’s horrible tragedy.  I can only hope that we will all learn something from those terrible events.

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