50% of lawyers dealt with aggressive clients last year: survey

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Half of Dutch lawyers were confronted with aggression from clients or others at some point during their work in 2021, a survey among 1,099 lawyers commissioned by the Netherlands bar organisation NOvA has shown.

Verbal aggression, such as shouting and abusive remarks, both face to face and online, were mentioned by 41% of the affected lawyers. Intimidation was experienced by 34% and threats by 18%. Some 4% were manhandled, were spat at or otherwise physically assaulted.

A third of the lawyers confronted with aggression qualified the incidents as ‘serious’ while a fifth contemplated leaving the profession. Most lawyers in the affected group said they had had to deal with aggression of some sort more than once.

Aggressive reactions are most common in cases involving divorce and bankruptcy, and personal injury cases, the survey showed.


Many legal firms are taking measures to cope with aggressive clients, by installing safety cameras and a panic button in at reception. Some will only see potentially aggressive clients if more lawyers are present.

The survey is part of a two-yearly probe to see what can be done to prevent aggression.

I&O Research, which carried out the survey, has also measured incidences aggression in other professions. It found 49% of politicians had met with aggression, 33% of civil servants and 82% of journalists.

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