Friday, 11 July 2008

Lawyer killed: Dangers of family law

According to the American Bar Association Journal, US lawyer Xia Zhao was recently killed. Jason Cai, the former husband of Ms Zhao's late client has been charged with Ms Zhao's murder, and was previously acquitted of his former wife's murder. Ms Xhao was pursuing Ms Cai for the wrongful death of her client.

For all those who consider that all family law cases can be successfully resolved by dispute resolution or mediation, the ugly reality is that there are some people, mainly men, who are prepared to use violence and threats of violence, to get their own way, and are not prepared to let anyone stand in their way.

These problems are NOT limited to the US. On a number of occasions I have been threatened with death or physical injury, or stalked - just for doing my job. I have been told by other family lawyers in Brisbane and elsewhere how they have also been threatened.

The unfortunate truth is that lawyers who practise in family law will from time to time come across violent, difficult and unstable people who may well follow through on their threats. Ms Zhao's death is a timely reminder to all family lawyers that risk assessment and safety planning is not the province of the client alone, and should be embraced by lawyers.

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