The risks that criminal defence solicitors take doing their day job has been further highlighted by alarming findings from employment research conducted by the Law Society of Scotland.
According to the society's latest violence survey, published this week, a third of solicitors in Scotland have experienced threatening conduct. One in four has experienced threatening communications. The vast majority of incidents happened in the solicitor's office or at court. Clients or former clients of solicitors, or the opposing party's solicitor, accounted for over 60% of violent incidents.
Criminal defence solicitors are most at risk, with almost half of respondents reporting more than four incidents in the last five years. Four in 10 criminal defence specialists have been victims of violence; seven in 10 have dealt with threatening behaviour.
Family lawyers have also been on the receiving end of unwanted conduct. A quarter have been attacked. Half have experienced threatening conduct. The picture is similarly bleak for prosecutors. Six in 10 have experienced threatening conduct. A fifth have been attacked.
One in 10 incidents was reported to the police. The survey suggests women are less likely than men to make a report.
Earlier this month, criminal defence practitioners in England and Wales told the Gazette about the risks that duty solicitors face at police stations, after reports that a woman was attacked in a north-west police station.
When it comes to the risks solicitors regularly face, the UK is not alone. The American Bar Association reported on a series of surveys conducted by a Salt Lake City attorney, who found that family lawyers face disproportionate levels of threats and violence compared with other lawyers.