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November 18, 2020 Feature

Workplace Danger: Violence against Lawyers and Law Firm Staff

Douglas R. Richmond
GettyImages.com/D-Keine/E+

GettyImages.com/D-Keine/E+

Awareness and education form the core of workplace violence prevention efforts.

On the afternoon of July 1, 1993, a man who appeared to be a portly middle-aged professional stepped off the elevator and into the 34th floor offices of San Francisco’s Pettit & Martin, then a firm of approximately 160 lawyers. He had been on his way to the 35th floor, where Pettit & Martin’s reception area was located, but got off the elevator on the 34th floor when it stopped because a secretary waiting there had pushed the up button. The seemingly innocuous visitor was Gian Luigi Ferri, a failed real estate investor and former Pettit & Martin client. The firm had not represented him since advising him on some real estate transactions in 1981 and providing follow-up advice in 1982.1 One of Ferri’s deals had soured, and Ferri, who in general “saw himself as a victim of a system out to crush him,” apparently and inexplicably blamed the firm for contributing to his financial downfall.2 Ferri never complained to Pettit & Martin about its work, however.3

Once in the firm, Ferri removed his jacket, donned hearing protection, took three semiautomatic pistols from the two briefcases he had with him, and began an assault. Without saying a word, he opened fire on a glass-walled conference room, killing a lawyer from another firm who was there for a deposition, as well as the lawyer’s client. The other lawyer in the deposition was shot five times but survived. Ferri killed another person on the 34th floor, and then transported his fury to lower floors by descending an internal staircase. Ferri soon committed suicide in a stairwell as police closed in, but before doing so he killed eight people and wounded six others. Among the dead were a Pettit & Martin partner, associate, summer associate, and legal secretary.4 Another Pettit & Martin partner was critically wounded; a lawyer who was working for the firm as an independent contractor was shot in the arm. None of the Pettit & Martin lawyers who were shot had ever represented Ferri.

Pettit & Martin dissolved in 1995. The firm was reportedly in financial distress before Ferri’s murderous rampage, but some Pettit & Martin lawyers attributed the firm’s ultimate demise to that fateful event.5 One Pettit & Martin lawyer “speculated that it may be all the better to retire the name Pettit & Martin. ‘Too many people associate the name with that terrible incident instead of the quality legal work [the] firm . . . provided for years,’ he said. ‘That’s a real tragedy.’”6

The “101 California Street Shooting” or “101 California Street Massacre,” as it came to be known because of the office building’s address, arguably introduced lawyers to the threat of workplace violence in their workplaces as compared to someone else’s.7 Sadly, the tragedy that befell Pettit & Martin has been repeated over and over in varying degrees.

On December 8, 2006, would-be inventor Joe Jackson forced a security guard at gunpoint to take him to the 38th floor offices of Wood, Phillips, Katz, Clark & Mortimer, a Chicago intellectual property boutique. Once there, Jackson shot and killed Michael McKenna, a lawyer who leased space from the firm; Allen Hoover, a Wood Phillips partner; and Paul Goodson, a part-time Wood Phillips mail clerk.8 He also wounded Wood Phillips paralegal Ruth Leib. Jackson, a truck driver, had paid McKenna $25,000 to patent a truck toilet that Jackson had designed. McKenna later told Jackson that his idea had already been patented. Jackson did not believe McKenna; he thought McKenna had used the money to patent the idea for another client.9 Jackson was killed at the scene by police.

On January 30, 2013, Mark P. Hummels, a partner at Osborn Maledon in Phoenix, was killed along with his client in the lobby of another law firm where they had gone for mediation.10 The shooter, Arthur Harmon, was their pro se opponent in litigation arising out of a $20,000 office furniture dispute. A lawyer who had dealt with Harmon in an unrelated case said that “he was litigious and had anger-management issues.”11 Harmon committed suicide after the killings.

The Phoenix area was the scene of another law firm shooting tragedy in June 2018. Divorce litigant Dwight Lamon Jones killed six people at various locations before fatally shooting himself in a Scottsdale, Arizona, hotel.12 Among the people Jones murdered were Laura Anderson and Veleria Sharp, paralegals at Burt Feldman Grenier, the Scottsdale law firm that represented Jones’s wife in their divorce proceedings. Jones shot Anderson and Sharp in the firm’s offices.13

On the morning of October 25, 2017, young Kansas City, Missouri, trial lawyer Tom Pickert was fatally shot in front of his home.14 His slayer was an octogenarian local businessman, David Jungerman. Two months earlier, Pickert tried a plaintiff’s case that produced a $5.75 million judgment against Jungerman. After the jury returned its verdict, Jungerman “approached Pickert in the courtroom in an aggressive manner and mentioned that he owned many guns.”15 Just one day before Pickert was shot, sheriff’s deputies had served Jungerman with liens against his properties to satisfy the judgment that Pickert won.

On December 29, 2017, lawyers and staff members at Long Beach, California’s Perona, Langer, Beck, Serbin, and Harrison (PLBSH) were enjoying their holiday party when John A. Mendoza, a former partner at the firm, interrupted the celebration. Mendoza had been recently fired and returned to the firm armed and bent on revenge.16 Mendoza ordered staff members to leave the building. He then shot and killed the firm’s senior managing partner, Major A. Langer, and wounded another managing partner, Ronald Beck. Mendoza killed himself at the scene.

Finally, for now, on August 16, 2018, Indiana lawyer T. Edward (Ted) Page was murdered at his home by his longtime tax client and close friend, William Landske.17 Landske, age 83, had gone to Page’s home with his two adult daughters to pick up tax documents. Landske’s daughters knew their father was unhappy with the timeliness of Page’s services but thought he was merely frustrated with Page. As Landske and Page were carrying Landske’s voluminous documents to his car, Landske asked Page if they could talk. When Page set down the documents he was carrying, Landske put his left arm around Page in a seemingly affectionate gesture. But affectionate it was not: Landske drew a pistol with his right hand and shot Page in the stomach at point-blank range. After his arrest, Landske characterized the murder as “a spur-of-the-moment thing,”18 a claim arguably belied by the fact that he went to Page’s home armed. Landske showed no remorse for killing Page.

Many lawyers likely underestimate the threat of workplace violence. For example, lawyers whose practices or whose firms’ practices do not include potentially volatile subject areas—such as family law or some forms of criminal law—may think they are immune to workplace danger.19 The Pettit & Martin and Wood Phillips incidents and the senseless murders of Mark Hummels, Tom Pickert, and Ted Page sadly prove the folly of that thinking.

Regardless of the type of law firm or the nature of its practice, a lawyer or staff member may be mired in a contentious divorce or attempting to end a troubled personal relationship that has the potential to bring an irate spouse, former spouse, partner, fiancée, or significant other to the firm’s offices to settle a score. A pro se litigant or another opponent may develop a warped view of a lawyer as an enemy and resort to violence, as Harmon and Jungerman did. A range of people with whom a firm does business or with whom its lawyers and staff interact may suffer from personality disorders or mental illnesses that contribute to them becoming violent. If a lawyer represents notorious clients or controversial public figures, violence directed at those individuals may spill over into the lawyer’s firm. A plaintiff in an employment case that a firm is defending might believe that the firm’s client ruined his life and attempt to exact revenge in a deposition or at a mediation.20 Finally, hard though it may be to imagine in the context of any individual firm, a lawyer or staff member may have mental health or personality issues that could manifest themselves in potentially violent ways.21 Alternatively, a lawyer or staff member who has been denied a promotion, disciplined, or fired might think he has been treated unfairly and respond violently.22 Indeed, the shootings at PLBSH exemplify that risk.

Assessing Risk

Despite the seeming randomness of the attacks described previously, it is possible to recognize warning signs of potential workplace violence risk. One approach is to profile perpetrators of workplace violence. Another approach is to examine warning signs that tend to foreshadow workplace violence. Neither approach is foolproof, of course, and even the most reliable general rules have exceptions.

Profile model. Extensive research into occupational homicide suggests that the aggressor will be a white male between the ages of 30 and 60.23 The likelihood that the aggressor will be male is as high as 80–97 percent.24 As compared to a potential perpetrator’s gender, a potential perpetrator’s race is statistically less certain. For example, Dwight Lamon Jones, who shot and killed the two paralegals at his wife’s law firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, was African American. And, while aggressors’ upper age limit may be reasonably predictable when considering violent employees—traditional retirement age providing at least something of a cap—that factor may be less reliable when trying to evaluate risks posed by clients or others. Jungerman and Landske were in their 80s, after all.

Second, workplace assailants are often socially isolated.25 The person may have lived alone for years or recently have experienced a separation or divorce.26 “It is also possible that the individual did not live completely alone but was psychologically isolated from those with whom he lived and thus unable to benefit from strong social links domestically.”27 Gian Ferri, for example, was described by neighbors as a lonely man who kept to himself.28 Neighbors further observed that he never seemed to have visitors to his office.29

Third, an aggressor typically will have experienced one or more triggering events, at least one of which will be directly linked to his violent outburst.30 For example, John Mendoza was fired by his law firm and thereafter shot the firm’s two managing partners. David Jungerman had been served with liens to secure the judgment Tom Pickert won against him the day before he murdered Pickert. Ferri had lost $300,000 on a Colorado real estate deal and had explored the possibility of filing for bankruptcy shortly before his killing spree at Pettit & Martin.31 Although Pettit & Martin had not represented Ferri in the Colorado matter, it had previously represented him in connection with an unfavorable real estate transaction.

Fourth, perpetrators of workplace violence tend to exhibit one or more behavioral warning signs that are considered general predictors of violence.32 In fact, research indicates that there is a 90 percent probability that an aggressor will exhibit at least one warning sign and a 50 percent chance that the person will exhibit two or more.33 These warning signs include a history of violent behavior, chronic or severe depression, evidence of some other severe personality or psychological disorder, obsession with another person, substance abuse, elevated frustration, a tendency to blame others or an organization for personal difficulties, a weapons fetish or fascination with workplace violence incidents, and the sustained display of behaviors that coworkers consider bizarre, strange, threatening, or discomforting.34 Other warning signs (potentially encompassed by the last category of signs just listed) include overt threats of harm or retaliation and attempts to intimidate others.35

There are additional warning signs that are specific to the practice of law. Some examples include a client’s belief that he has been victimized by society or by the justice system, a client’s view that authority figures (such as the government) are enemies, and the loss of a case the client expected to win or a victory that does not bring the satisfaction or vindication the client desired.36 People who consider the justice system to be the problem in their lives may well have suffered an actual injustice in the past. Then, in a common form of paranoid thinking, they project their anger and resentment over that earlier experience onto their present situation.37

Pro se litigants present a special concern.38 Pro se litigants who are in some cases already seeking retribution or vindication through the legal system may refocus their anger on opposing counsel if their cases do not go as planned.39 The threat becomes more acute when pro se litigants think that their claims were not properly heard or that they were not believed.40 In that instance, the pro se litigant feels doubly victimized, and any hostility or outrage aimed at others is significantly amplified.

Finally, it is important to recognize that when attempting to evaluate the risk of violence, a person’s observed behaviors or threats count more than statistical predictors. In circumstances where a potential aggressor is not a law firm employee, for example, lawyers or law firm managers may not know enough about the person to evaluate his or her behavior against a model—what they do know are the nature of the person’s threats or behaviors and how concerning those appear to be in context.

Signs of danger model. Once a person has made threats or exhibited signs of dangerous stress, it is important to assess the person’s ability to carry out an act of violence. Relevant and practical factors to consider include (1) the person’s expression of an intent or plan to harm others; (2) whether the person has considered harming himself; (3) whether the person has the means to carry out any threats; (4) whether the person owns or has displayed or practiced with a weapon; and (5) if the person has previously been disciplined at work, how he responded in that situation.41

Preventative and Protective Measures

Sadly, it is impossible to prevent all incidents of workplace violence even when law firms timely recognize potential threats. Nonetheless, there are several steps that firms may wish to consider taking to reduce the likelihood that their lawyers and staff will be victimized.

Implement a written workplace safety policy. A firm should implement a written workplace safety policy.42 A workplace safety policy will not stop a disturbed client or former client from engaging in threatening behavior, and it may not even prevent a law firm employee from menacing colleagues. Such a policy will, however, sensitize lawyers and staff to the risk of workplace violence, assure employees that the firm will take reasonable protective measures should the need arise, and provide a basis for taking appropriate action against lawyers or staff who engage in threatening behavior.

A policy should (1) clearly define prohibited conduct and provide examples of inappropriate behaviors; (2) to the extent permitted by local law, prohibit or regulate the possession of firearms in the firm’s offices and at firm-related activities; (3) require prompt reporting of perceived violations of the policy and of any circumstances that raise a concern for lawyers’ and staff members’ safety from violence; (4) require lawyers and staff members to notify appropriate firm personnel of any protective order affecting them that identifies their workplace as a protected area; (5) assure lawyers and staff that reports under the policy will be handled discreetly and promptly investigated; (6) provide that the firm will not retaliate against lawyers or staff members who make good faith reports under the policy; and (7) identify appropriate responses to policy violations, including referrals to counseling and discipline up to and including termination of employment or expulsion from the firm.43

Establish a protocol for responding to workplace violence concerns. Consistent with the requirement that firm personnel report policy violations and safety concerns, a firm must establish a protocol to receive and respond to those reports. This includes identifying personnel to whom reports should be made (e.g., the firm’s chief human resources officer), identifying personnel to whom reports should be escalated (e.g., the firm’s general counsel or managing partner), formulating initial actions to be taken upon receiving a report under the policy, identifying who will be responsible for investigating reports or gathering information, identifying circumstances in which the firm will engage outside experts to consult regarding a threat (e.g., security consultants or mental health professionals with threat assessment expertise), deciding when employment law counsel should be consulted, calculating the circumstances in which the firm will involve law enforcement agencies, identifying who will be responsible for notifying or engaging other external resources (e.g., building security), deciding who will be responsible for coordinating the firm’s response to credible threats of violence, formulating any communications with lawyers and staff regarding potential threats, and planning steps to monitor a situation once it has been addressed.

The range of responses to credible threats of workplace violence is broad and fact-dependent. For example, a firm may need to provide a threatened employee with secure parking or escorts to and from her car, offer the employee flexible work hours, or allow her to work remotely, change her work email address or telephone number, or screen her incoming calls. The firm may need to furnish building security officers with photos of a potentially threatening person or a copy of a related restraining order and instruct them that the person should not be allowed to enter the building or proceed to the firm’s offices. A troubled employee may need to be suspended, terminated, or referred to counseling. In extreme circumstances, it may be necessary for a law firm to obtain a restraining order against a potential perpetrator or to assist an employee in doing so, or to employ armed security officers to protect a lawyer, a staff member, or the firm’s offices in general.

Assess the physical security of the firm’s offices and enhance it as necessary and practicable. Law firm offices vary widely in terms of their locations and the types of buildings they occupy. In some cities, it is common for visitors to have to clear building security checks before continuing to a law firm, while in other cities, buildings routinely have no security desks, or the officers there provide no visitor screening function. The lobby doors to some firms are always locked and visitors have to be “buzzed in,” while the doors to other firms’ offices are always open or, if the firm occupies an entire floor, there may not even be any doors. If a firm occupies multiple floors in a building, some floors may be easily entered while entry on others is somehow restricted to lawyers and staff. In some firms, visitors may be able to enter a common area but need a key card or electronic badge to enter the remainder of the office.

Generally, the more physically secure a law firm’s offices are, the better from a workplace violence prevention standpoint.44 The level of law office physical security that may reasonably be achieved depends on the facility, as well as the culture of the firm and the community. Even in offices to which lobby access is largely unrestricted, law firms may wish to explore means of restricting access to the remainder of the office. It is also possible to install remote door locks, whereby someone may press a button or pull a small lever (typically protected in a marked case like a fire alarm) and automatically close and lock common area doors to deny an intruder access to all or part of an office. In all offices, firms should make sure that exits are clearly marked and that lawyers and staff are trained on their locations so that they can quickly escape the premises in the event of an emergency. Firms should coordinate with their landlords to ensure that parking lots and building entrances are appropriately lit and that access to nonpublic areas of the building (such as stairwells) is appropriately controlled.

Some experts recommend that firms install duress buttons (often called “panic buttons”) at reception desks or other areas in an office so that law enforcement can quickly be summoned in response to a critical incident. But duress buttons have material limitations. By way of analogy, bank tellers’ duress buttons send a signal to a private alarm company that calls the police. It is simple for an alarm company operator who receives a teller’s duress signal to report a robbery in progress and for the police to respond appropriately to the call. But a duress button in a law firm does not operate in a similarly straightforward fashion. It does no good, for example, for a security company to inform the police that an armed perpetrator is in the firm’s lobby because current gun laws allow visitors to a firm’s offices to arrive armed. Even instructing an alarm company that activation of a duress button signals the presence of an active shooter is unhelpful when that may not be the threat that prompted someone to press the button. And if the police cannot be reasonably informed about the nature of the incident that caused someone to press a duress button, there is a fair chance in some cities that they will dispatch the call as “unknown trouble” or something similar, which is generally treated as a low priority and may be held by a dispatcher in a queue for an extended time.

If a firm intends to install duress buttons, those systems need to be configured to signal someone in the firm (or perhaps a building security office or station) who can then view the location from which the signal was sent via closed-circuit television (CCTV), call the police when necessary, and accurately describe the situation and the perpetrator. In sum, a duress button needs to be combined with a CCTV system, and there must be someone in place to immediately respond to alarms.

Train lawyers and staff. Law firms should train their lawyers and staff on workplace violence generally and on their workplace violence prevention policies.45 Workplace violence training may be conducted singularly or in conjunction with other training, such as sexual harassment training or new employee orientation.46 Law firms may wish to consider bringing in outside experts to participate in training sessions. Although some people may consider it alarming or disquieting, firms should also educate their lawyers and staff on how best to protect themselves and others should workplace violence erupt.47 The FBI has produced a concise Run. Hide. Fight.® video for use in training businesses on responding to active shooter situations. Law firms may wish to use this video in their training. Many local law enforcement agencies also offer workplace violence programming and active shooter training.

Maintain good human resources practices in general. Lawyers and staff may experience a variety of personal difficulties or troubles that affect their behavior or performance at work. Colleagues may display signs of distress short of those that signal a potential for violence (or which are perhaps much subtler) but that are significant nonetheless. Law firm leaders, managers, and supervisors need to respond appropriately to colleagues who may need help. When speaking with a struggling colleague, for example, lawyers should ask the colleague if something is troubling him or her, articulate their concerns to the person respectfully, listen to the person nonjudgmentally, offer appropriate support, remind the person of available support services (such as employee and lawyer assistance programs), and in some instances encourage the person to seek appropriate professional assistance or support.48 Depending on the facts, the lawyer also may need to report a conversation with a colleague under the firm’s workplace safety policy.

When dealing with a distressed colleague, a lawyer should not minimize the person’s concerns, trivialize the person’s situation, or patronize the person.49 Equally fundamentally, friends, coworkers, and supervisors need to know the limits of their roles. It may be necessary to seek the advice of the firm’s human resources director, if the firm employs one, or to reach out to other people in the firm for assistance in dealing with the situation.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, no law firm, large or small, can be confident that it is immune to the wide range of disturbing, threatening, and violent conduct that falls within the broad definition of workplace violence. Awareness and education form the core of workplace violence prevention efforts. Remote though the risk of workplace violence may seem, law firm leaders must recognize that it exists and commit their firms to taking practical steps to reasonably ensure the safety of their lawyers, staff, and visitors.

Notes

1. Robert Reinhold, The Broker Who Killed 8: Gunman’s Motives a Puzzle, N.Y. Times (July 3, 1993), https://www.nytimes.com/1993/07/03/us/the-broker-who-killed-8-gunman-s-motives-a-puzzle.html.

2. Victims of Chance in Deadly Rampage, N.Y. Times (July 7, 1993), https://www.nytimes.com/1993/07/07/us/victims-of-chance-in-deadly-rampage.html [hereinafter Victims of Chance]. Ferri alleged that the seller in a transaction in which Pettit & Martin had represented him had made misrepresentations. The firm helped Ferri find counsel in Indiana to sue the seller, and Ferri thereafter won a $1 million judgment. Reinhold, supra note 1.

3. Reinhold, supra note 1.

4. Ferri also murdered a visitor to the building, a Davis Wright & Tremaine secretary, and two Trust Company of the West employees. Victims of Chance, supra note 2.

5. Steven A. Chin & Erin McCormick, 101 Calif. Massacre Law Firm Closing, S.F. Examiner (Mar. 6, 1995), https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/101-Calif-massacre-law-firm-closing-3158509.php.

6. Id.

7. “Workplace violence” may be defined as “[a] spectrum of behaviors—including overt acts of violence, threats, and other conduct—that generates a reasonable concern for safety from violence, where a nexus exists between the behavior and the physical safety of employees and others (such as customers, clients, and business associates) on-site, or off-site when related to the organization.” ASIS Int’l & Soc’y for Human Res. Mgmt., ASIS/SHRM WVPI.1-2011, Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention 4 (2011) [hereinafter ASIS/SHRM WVPI.1-2011].

8. Marius Meland, Inventor Kills 3 in Chicago IP Firm, Law360 (Dec. 10, 2006), https://www.law360.com/articles/14819/inventor-kills-3-in-chicago-ip-firm; Brett Trout, Two Patent Attorneys Killed in Chicago Shooting, BlawgIT (Dec. 11, 2006), https://blawgit.com/2006/12/11/two-patent-attorneys-killed-in-chicago.

9. Trout, supra note 8.

10. Martha Neil, Fatal Shooting after Mediation Leaves Lawyer and Client Dead, A.B.A. J. (Jan. 31, 2013), https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/lawyer_shot_client_executive_killed_after_mediation_session_with_suspected_.

11. Id.

12. Debra Cassens Weiss, Police Identify Divorce Litigant Believed to Have Killed 2 Paralegals and 4 Others, A.B.A. J. (June 5, 2018), https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/police_identify_divorce_litigant_believed_to_have_killed_2_paralegals_among.

13. 2 Paralegals Shot, Killed at Scottsdale Law Office, 3TV/CBS 5 (June 1, 2018), https://www.azfamily.com/2-paralegals-shot-killed-at-scottsdale-law-office/article_12027f56-ff31-11e8-aa28-83bb0fd2525a.html; Rachel Leingang, Phoenix-Area Law Firms Bolster Security after Shootings Shake Legal Community, Ariz. Republic (June 4, 2018), https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2018/06/04/law-firms-bolster-security-wake-shootings-scottsdale/669823002.

14. Jessica Shumaker, Threats against Attorneys More Common Than Reported, Mo. Law. Wkly. 1, 1 (Apr. 23, 2018).

15. Matt Campbell, $5.75 Million Judgment against Accused Killer of Attorney Tom Pickert Upheld, Kan. City Star (Aug. 7, 2018), https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article216232825.html.

16. Staci Zaretsky, Former Partner Interrupts Law Firm Holiday Party and Starts Shooting, Above L. (Jan. 2, 2018), https://abovethelaw.com/2018/01/former-partner-interrupts-law-firm-holiday-party-and-starts-shooting.

17. Becky Jacobs, Former Cedar Lake Councilman Charged with Murder of Hobart Attorney Outside His Home: “I Went Over the Deep End, Chi. Trib. (Aug. 17, 2018), https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/ct-ptb-attorney-hobart-charges-st-0818-story.html.

18. Id. (quoting court documents).

19. See Lorelei Laird, The Job Is Killing Them, A.B.A. J. (Sept. 1, 2018), https://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/the_job_is_killing_them_family_lawyers_experience_threats_violence (reporting that “family lawyers face disproportionate amounts of threats and violence as compared to other lawyers” and that criminal lawyers experience “an above-average rate of threats and violence”); see also Raisa Habersham, Attorney Killed by Client’s Husband in Murder-Suicide, Officials Say, Atlanta J.-Const. (June 22, 2018), https://www.ajc.com/news/crime--law/breaking-homicide-investigation-underway-cartersville/raLdF7XXoGnW0MStJZRUsM (reporting that a prominent divorce lawyer was killed in his office by his client’s husband); Sarah Martinez, San Antonio Attorney Arrested after Firing Gun Outside Ex-Girlfriend’s Work, Stealing from Her Car, San Antonio Current (Mar. 17, 2020), https://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2020/03/17/san-antonio-attorney-arrested-after-firing-gun-outside-ex-girlfriends-work-stealing-from-her-car (reporting that a lawyer went to his ex-girlfriend’s place of employment, fired a shot in the parking lot, and then broke into her car and stole her belongings).

20. This article uses masculine pronouns when referring to perpetrators of workplace violence because statistically there is an 80–97 percent chance that the perpetrator will be male. Stephen D. Kelson, Recognize & Avoid the Threat of Violence, 90 Wis. Law. 20, 24 (2017), https://www.wisbar.org/NewsPublications/WisconsinLawyer/Pages/Article.aspx?Volume=90&Issue=6&ArticleID=25665.

21. See, e.g., Aebra Coe, Thompson & Knight Fires Manager for COVID-19 Mask Post, Law360 (May 9, 2020), https://www.law360.com/articles/1272075/thompson-knight-fires-manager-for-covid-19-mask-post (reporting that a Texas law firm fired a staff member for a Facebook post that violently expressed his unhappiness with businesses that were requiring customers to wear face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, including what appeared to be threats to shoot store employees who tried to make him wear a mask or display COVID-19 test results).

22. See, e.g., Fired Attorney Returns to Workplace with Weapon, Police Say, NBCDFW (Nov. 18, 2019), https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/fired-attorney-returns-to-workplace-with-weapon-police-say (reporting that police arrested a Denton, Texas, attorney after she brought a weapon to the law office where she’d recently been fired; the lawyer allegedly fired a single shot before fleeing the scene).

23. Michael D. Kelleher, Profiling the Lethal Employee 9–10 (1997); Kelson, supra note 20, at 24.

24. Kelleher, supra note 23, at 9; Kelson, supra note 20, at 24.

25. Kelleher, supra note 23, at 10–11; Kelson, supra note 20, at 24.

26. Kelleher, supra note 23, at 10–11.

27. Id. at 11.

28. Reinhold, supra note 1.

29. Id.

30. Kelleher, supra note 23, at 11–12; Kelson, supra note 20, at 24.

31. Reinhold, supra note 1.

32. Kelleher, supra note 23, at 12; Kelson, supra note 20, at 24 (reporting that 85 percent of all incidents of workplace violence were foreshadowed by warning signs).

33. Kelleher, supra note 23, at 12.

34. Id. at 13–22.

35. Kelson, supra note 20, at 24.

36. Harold J. Bursztajn & James T. Hilliard, Violence against Attorneys and Judges: Protecting Yourself before and after a Threat, Accredited Psychiatry & Med. (June 11, 2018), http://www.forensic-psych.com/articles/artAskexp06.php.

37. Id.

38. Philip S. Deming, A Conundrum for the Legal Profession: Workplace Violence 2 (2019) (on file with author).

39. Id.

40. Id.

41. Kelson, supra note 20, at 24.

42. ASIS/SHRM WVPI.1-2011, supra note 7, at 14; Rod Hart & Denise Heybrook, Workplace Violence and Components of a Psychologically Healthy Workplace, 33 Benefits Q. 8, 9 (2017); Jessica B. Jackler, Reducing the Risk of Workplace Violence, In-House Def. Q. 23, 25 (Winter 2019).

43. ASIS/SHRM WVPI.1-2011, supra note 7, at 14–15; Hart & Heybrook, supra note 42, at 9.

44. Many physical security measures are of less value if the offender is a current employee who can move freely throughout the firm’s offices as a result.

45. Hart & Heybrook, supra note 42, at 9; Jackler, supra note 42, at 26.

46. ASIS/SHRM WVPI.1-2011, supra note 7, at 21.

47. See Angela Morris, Survivor Mentality: Law Firms Are Seeking Out Professionals to Hold Active Shooter Drills, A.B.A. J. (Dec. 1, 2018), https://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/survivor_mentality_active_shooter_drills.

48. Hart & Heybrook, supra note 42, at 10.

49. Id.

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Douglas R. Richmond is a managing director at Aon in Kansas City, Missouri, where he leads Aon’s risk management services for its law firm clients. Before joining Aon in 2004, he was a partner with Armstrong Teasdale LLP, where he had a broad civil trial practice.

 

Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author.