This dissertation discusses lawyer victimization across Canadian provinces and territories, a research project that employed both quantitative and qualitative methods, utilizing an exploratory survey approach to canvass 15,746 practicing lawyers and undertaking 61 lawyer interviews. Findings from the survey revealed that threats ranged from inappropriate communications and approaches to explicit threats to harm including physical assaults and death threats. Robust findings included gender differences with regard to reactions to aggression, and that occupation, not gender, is relevant to receipt of aggression. Theoretical discussions were triangulated to also include the author’s 2006 public opinion survey of lawyers, canvassing the general public (n=182) and university students in a large Western Canadian university (n=480). In the lawyer interviews, numerous themes were explored – theoretical assumptions; gender issues in practicing law, self-represented individuals in the legal system; the public’s access to legal knowledge online; and unethical billing practices. As well, possible solutions were proffered: promoting legal literacy in elementary/secondary schools; transitioning law school academics to legal practitioners; enhancing law firm mentorship programs, and bringing awareness of lawyer victimization to the provincial bar societies and the Canadian Bar Association. Unless coordinated efforts are undertaken to address aggression against lawyers, legal practitioners, especially women, will continue to suffer victimization and severe psychological repercussions.
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Thesis advisor: MacAlister, David
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