Safety and Security in the Legal Workplace

Imagine an average day in a law firm where the environment is fast-paced with paralegals trying to meet crucial deadlines and court reporters rushing into a conference room to set up their equipment for a deposition.  Everyone is focused on the immediate tasks.  Then, suddenly, shots ring out.  Screams are heard, and shock momentarily paralyzes everyone.

The scenario is unfortunately all too real in our present-day world of active shootings.  Although we think of such incidents as happening only at school, malls, and other public places, the legal community is seeing its share of violence.

Litigation of all types is undoubtedly a stressful time for the parties involved.  A legal defeat that results in losing child custody or paying a large cash amount can be a triggering event that sets off an already high-stressed person.

For our audience of legal professionals, it is a challenge to always be on your guard when other pressing demands are being made on your time.  However, consider this acronym, ACT.

A = Awareness

C = Communicate

T – Take Action

As busy as you may be, always be Aware of your surroundings.  Know where your exit doors are.  Restrict access to only those individuals with a need to be at the firm.  

Communicate any concerns that you may have with the office manager or managing attorney because of something you have seen or heard.

Do not be afraid to Take Action by leaving or seeking shelter.  A court reporter in the middle of a hostile situation at a deposition should not hesitate to leave for fear of losing a job.  You have the right to protect yourself.

Ron Manard, J.D., Attorney and Paralegal Instructor at South Coast College.  Mr. Manard is also a subject matter expert on active shooting and cyber security who has collaborated with local and federal law enforcement.

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