The Netherlands Bar Association (NOvA, for its acronym in Dutch) announced on Tuesday that “half of lawyers experienced at least one form of assault in the last 12 months.”
In a Press releasethe bar reported that it commissioned the Dutch research agency I&O Research to carry out a study on the forms of aggression that Dutch lawyers face and described the findings as “confrontational”.
The association explained that “I&O Research conducted a survey in May 2022 in which 1,099 lawyers participated” and a subsequent study in which it considered their “age, gender, size of their office and the district” in which they practice their trade.
According to the bar, there are more than 18,000 lawyers in the Netherlands.
“Very Serious” Incidents
The NOvA indicated that “four out of ten” lawyers experience “multiple incidents” of violence, while 37% of the lawyers surveyed described the experienced incident as “very serious”.
According to the study, the most common form of aggression was verbal, with 41% of cases, followed by intimidation, 34%, threats, 18%, and physical aggression, 4%.
The Association stressed that “more than two thirds of the lawyers who have had to deal with aggression experience adverse effects because of it” and added that “aggression affects the way in which lawyers do their work”.
The NOvA explained that the attacked lawyers “become more careful in their expressions and when accepting clients”, which, according to the association, is an “obstacle” when it comes to helping people who need their services.
Likewise, these lawyers assume that they will suffer a type of aggression again and, as a result, “have less pleasure in their work”, while “21% sometimes consider quitting smoking”.
“The possibility of experiencing an incident is greater for lawyers who work in bankruptcy law, criminal law, personal injury law and personal and family law,” the bar noted, adding that “in half of the cases the assault comes from the client. ”, be it old or current.
The college stressed that when it comes to the client himself, the aggression is often verbal in nature. In a third of cases it is a threat.
Given the situation, the NOvA “offers several initiatives to make lawyers more resilient”, including “resilience training, an emergency number and an emergency button”, all of them measures that are part of the “Working Group of Undermining Protection (Taskforce Bto)”.
In addition, “the results of the report have led the NOvA General Council to appoint a confidential national BTO advisor”, who can be contacted by lawyers who have experienced one or more of these problems.
The association will also investigate how to permanently include resilience training in the professional education of lawyers and recalls that the survey will be repeated every two years in order to “monitor the evolution” of the results.
Assault cases in other professions
I&O Research also carried out similar research among political office holders in local administrations, civil servants and journalists, with similar results to that of lawyers.
49% of politicians experienced at least one incident of violence, of civil servants 33% and of journalists 82%.
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