State Bar of Arizona CEO John Phelps, interviewed by CBS5 regarding a free seminar on protecting yourself against workplace violence in the legal profession.

State Bar of Arizona CEO John Phelps, interviewed by CBS5 regarding a free seminar on protecting yourself against workplace violence in the legal profession.

How substantial is violence in the legal profession? And how much is security at the top of lawyers’ minds?

“Very” appears to be the answer to both questions. That is based a recent survey that sought the views of Arizona attorneys.

In the November issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, we will publish an article by Steve Kelson, a lawyer and the survey’s organizer. I am reading a draft of the article now, and violence and the threat of it are more pronounced in the profession than I would have supposed.

As attorneys struggle with those concerns, the State Bar of Arizona decided to confront the issue head-on. Besides the survey publication next month, the Bar is offering a free seminar tomorrow that you may want to attend. It’s called “Expecting the Unexpected: How to Prepare You and Your Staff for Violence in the Workplace.”

It will occur at noon tomorrow (Tuesday, August 20). You can view the program live at the Bar office in Phoenix, simulcast in the Tucson Bar office, or via livestream from wherever you are.

Before I give the details, you may also want to watch a brief news story that describes the risks and in which Bar CEO John Phelps is interviewed.

The news story also points out that the seminar has been opened up to attendees nationwide; as of the story’s airing, there were 375 registrants (and that includes far more people, as many law offices have registered as an entity and will gather many staff for the viewing).

Here is the detail you need about the free seminar.

Workplace violence happens.

How will you respond?

Lawyers, judges and public figures are at increased risk for workplace violence. Knowing how to respond is a necessity in today’s world. Join the State Bar of Arizona and InReach, a leading provider of online continuing education management solutions, for a free seminar designed to promote personal safety and create a safer work environment. 

During this program, you will hear from:

  • a police sergeant trained to counteract shooters and apprehend violent offenders,
  • a former police officer turned litigator,
  • a lawyer experienced in disaster preparation and
  • a psychologist who is an  expert in situational awareness.



  • Sgt. Phil Brailsford, City of Mesa Police Department
  • Amy D. Paul, Psy.DCrisis Preparation and Recovery, Inc.
  • John Phelps, CEO/Executive Director, State Bar of Arizona

WHEN: Tuesday, August 20, 2013, Noon to 1:15 p.m.

LIVE SEMINAR: McAuliffe CLE Center, State Bar of Arizona, 4201 N. 24th Street, Phoenix

TUCSON SIMULCAST: Southern Regional Office, 270 N. Church Ave., Tucson

WEBCAST: Live streamed to your office or home computer

This seminar is a member service and does not qualify for MCLE credit.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorLast Thursday, John Phelps wrote candidly about violence against lawyers in an Arizona Republic op-ed.

John is the CEO/Executive Director of the State Bar of Arizona. Here is how he opened his editorial:

“The murders of Phoenix attorney Mark Hummels and his client Steven D. Singer are part of an unsettling trend in the legal world. Threats and violence are on the rise.”

John Phelps headshot

John Phelps

“In the same week that Hummels was murdered, a prosecutor in Texas, Mark Hasse, was also gunned down. Last year, an attorney in Yuma, Jerrold Shelley, was shot and killed by a man upset over a divorce.”

You can read his complete editorial here.

John goes on to discuss Steve Kelson, a Utah lawyer who has researched instances of violence against lawyers all across the country. (He is in the beginning steps of his process to do the same in Arizona in 2013.) The statistics Keslon reports in John’s op-ed are startling and should give us pause.

In his conclusion, John reminds us of attorneys’ highest duties: “Mark Hummels died after leaving a mediation. His death was the result of trying to find resolution. He died fulfilling Cicero’s belief that ‘we are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free.’”

“Our thoughts and prayers go to Mark and Steve Singer’s family, friends and co-workers.”

John Phelps op-ed re Mark Hummels

News screen grab (referring to shooter Arthur Harmon)

UPDATE: This morning, a shooting in Delaware highlighted the flash point that the legal system can be. News reports indicate that multiple people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a security checkpoint in a Wilmington courthouse. Identities of those killed and hurt have not yet been announced. But the final paragraph of the news article is revealing: “Wilmington Police Chief Christine Dunning, attending a roundtable on gun violence with Vice President Joe Biden and other law enforcement officials in Philadelphia, declined comment on the shooting and deferred to officials on the scene in Wilmington.”