What should you (the attorney) do when you are concerned about the other side in a case. Recently I saw a post where an attorney was concerned about taking a domestic violence case because the other side a) had a bad temper; b) was violent and c) owned some guns. The lawyer was concerned about the other side showing up at the office or at home. I would add to that, worry about your own client(s) too since clients have a distressing track record of shooting their own attorneys when things don’t go “right.”
First of all: we all worry that the other side will take things personally and come after us. Even people who you never would have thought could be violent can snap. Keep that firmly in mind whenever you are doing something contested. It doesn’t have to be litigation, just contested. Making people angry is part of my profession. I know that. It’s the (very) rare person who takes it personally, and even rarer to go after my family. But it can (and does) happen sometimes. So you have to pay attention.
If you are interested in this, under Resources are my 101 Personal Protection Tips. And my 101 Business Protection Tips. Help yourself. If you are worried about your office, the ABA has a book I helped write with an entire chapter on how to design your office for safety and security.
A couple of specific things to alert you to however:
- Gavin de Becker wrote a book recently called “The Gift of Fear.” It’s a great book with a simple message: Trust your instincts. Over millions of years the human animal has evolved an early warning system that allows us to detect threats. Listen to it.
- Don’t give out free chances to your enemy. That means don’t walk down dark alleys, don’t park in isolated places, don’t be distracted by ear buds, etc. I’ve written literally hundred of blog posts and rants about distracted walking and how you can get into trouble with that.
- Get into your car and START THE ENGINE first. Don’t sit and fiddle, don’t stop to put on the seatbelt, don’t adjust things. START THE ENGINE. Then you can drive away immediately if there is a problem.
- Get an alarm system.
- Think about whether or not you want to learn to use a handgun. If you decide you do, learn to use it. If not, that’s OK too. But think about it. There are consequences from either decision you make. This is another subject I’ve written about extensively.
- De-list your home address from the public record base. Try zabasearch.com and some of the others to find out. Then take steps to have your records removed or redacted.
- Be sure your office has a back door.
- Don’t be predictable.