I’m happy that this is finally being discussed and that efforts are being made to reduce/eliminate stigma around mental health, burnout, depression, etc. We might consider CPD programming around maintaining mental health in our stressful profession.
Being a legal professional is an increasingly stressful and difficult way to earn a crust. Supports like the Members Assistance Program and the Coach and Advisor Network should be supported and expanded.
I support the current program that has been put in place by the LSO. However, I believe that the LSO can and should do more to promote the utilization of the Lawyer’s Assistance Program.
In an adversarial system, this is likely to remain a challenge.
We need to do more. People like Orlando DaSilva and Elsa Ascensio are breaking down the walls and initiating discussions that are sorely needed. The LSO has an opportunity
The wellbeing of licensees has been an often-overlooked element of legal service delivery and substantive preparation for work as a lawyer. Those whose clients number among the suffering and vulnerable are regularly exposed to trauma, but given no training or resources on self-care. This compounds the lamentable mental health and substance abuse statistics of our profession.
Taking away the personal embarrassment of admitting the need for help with mental health should be the goal of LSO. The current MAP strategy for mental health is a good start and can be improved upon if LSO adopts a HELP perspective for its members. Free CPD webinars and recordings should be offered to raise awareness among members of the possibility that a member is experiencing a mental health issue without realizing or recognizing the problem. Local law associations should be encouraged to watch for signs of mental health issues among their members, and to suggest proactive treatment measures on a confidential basis to individual members.
The LSO has done important work in making the Member Assistance Program (the MAP) available and encouraging lawyers to make use of the MAP. The Law Society has taken significant steps in recognizing the importance of mental health issues in conduct investigation and prosecution. The report of the Mental Health Working Group continues to guide the LSO. The LSO continues to wrestle with the best approach to addressing issues of capacity.
Mental health in the profession is very important. The Law Society needs to provide more support for licensees to deal with the stresses from the legal profession. This is linked to my call for Financial Accountability. More funds need to be allocated to improving mental health programs for lawyers. The Law Society should consider the addition of extended health benefits for lawyers who are not provided with such benefits from their employment. The discipline and investigation process also needs to adhere to the duty to accommodate under the Human Rights Code.
Convocation is a board of directors who are to refrain from fettering their decisions in advance. I remain open to all proposals that fall with the LSO mandate and budget.
We are living in an era of disruption. Many lawyers work in a high stress, conflict-filled, environment. LSO needs to take a leadership role in providing support to its members who will encounter difficulty in this area.
This is far more important then more are willing to admit. The LSO needs to put significant resources into providing assistance to the legal profession
This should have the same priority as EDI. It involves collaboration with other justice systems’ participants and stakeholders, and promoting enhanced awareness, training and supports for lawyers, such as the MAP. Law Society Tribunal staff, counsel and members should have specialized training in mental health and addiction issues , and diversion from discipline prosecution should be available where appropriate.
We must be mindful of members who face health challenges. Mental health challenges in particular. We need to improve and explore new ways that the LSO can offer early support to members so that their struggles do not result in disciplinary proceedings.
With growing awareness and information on the extent and consequences of mental health issues faced by legal professionals, the LSO has to lead the charge on destigmatising mental health issues and providing proper support to its members. This would be a first step to accelerating an important culture shift.To this end, the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel and the Member’s Assistance Program must be supported and improved.
I was a member of the LSO’s Mental Health Strategy Task Force in 2015/6 and support implementation of the strategy.
This is where the Law Society has made some movements in understanding and supporting its membership. There is so much further that we must go. This term will prove to be a historical time to improve understanding and to assist in providing access to resources for people that need help. In this election, we must support leaders in this area who are seeking a term as bencher such as Orlando Da Silva and Caryma Sa’d.
The Law Society can do more to address mental health and addiction issues, through both preventive and regulatory strategies. I will bring my considerable experience in advising regulators on discipline and capacity matters to bear on issues of mental health as it intersects with the investigation and discipline process.
Improving mental health is a matter of a serious concern that must be prioritized by the LSO. Support to members must include programming that helps guide, destigmatize and provide resources to members facing mental health problems with a cognizance that there is a disproportionate burden in dealing with mental health issues for sole and small firm lawyers who do not otherwise have access to firm, government or institutional resources to these challenges.
As mentioned above, if elected Bencher, I will encourage the Law Society of Ontario, Convocation, and all willing justice sector participants, to forge partnerships committed to improving the mental health of the legal profession, including lawyers, students, and paralegals. The LSO is also well suited, through strategic partnerships, to address the mental health of the broader justice community, including, judges, prosecutors, first responders, jurors, self-represented litigants, and vulnerable members of society engaged in the justice system. With your support, I will be a strong advocate for this process and these partnerships.
Mental health is closely connected to diversity and inclusion and to A2J. We need to be a more caring, supportive profession where lawyers can thrive.
A healthy bar, supported by the LSO, is in the public interest.
Too often, the relationship between lawyers and the LSO is adversarial. Lawyers need to be better supported when facing their own issues and not punished for having them.
Mental Health is a huge problem with not only Licensees but the public. The Members Assistance Program is a great program that can assist the LSO members during a difficult time. Specialized training needs to be provided to Law Society Tribunal Members to help assist in situations when Licensees are suffering with a Mental Health issue and not able to continue an independent practice.
While there are many contributing factors to mental health issues in the profession, the isolation of sole practice is not taken well by all participants, and initiatives to help address these issues would be my priority. I have seen at least two close colleagues who have had their licences revoked because of mental health issues spiraling out of control. I have seen others leave practice, purportedly voluntarily, when stressors became too much. We need to find better ways to address these issues.
The LSO needs to continue efforts to educate members about identifying mental health issues, and in providing services through the Members Assistance Program. Law Society Tribunals need to expand their focus on assisting lawyers suffering from mental health issues as well as ensuring that the public is protected.
This should not be the responsibility of the LSO. While the LSO has some part to play in ensuring that LSO members are properly accommodated when suffering these issues, we cannot afford costly programs that enhance the mental health services that the province or health care already provides.
The changes we are proposing to make to the Tribunal Rules will provide accommodation for all vulnerable witnesses.
In 2015, I ran on a platform with Janet Leiper to promote equity, inclusion and diversity. I have always included mental health initiatives in my promotion of EDI, because I believe it is the obligation of an inclusive and progressive regulator. I have practiced in the area of human rights and mental health throughout my career and this issue has been a priority area for me in my practice, and in my work as a Bencher throughout my first term. I have sat on every Mental Health Task Force and Working Group, actively worked to get progressive and inclusive recommendations passed to address mental health and addictions issues passed in Convocation (which I voted for). I currently sit on the Mental Health Working Group that is focused on extending this work to proactive initiatives to promote mental health and well-being in the legal professions.
Mental Health is the defining issue of our generation. Many people are suffering in silence. Many take their own lives and we saw this recently in Toronto with a prominent lawyer. We need to educate people about mental health to eliminate the shame people feel so that they seek help. Law is a very stressful business and we should be ensure that there are avenues that lawyers can take to seek help. This is also ultimately in the public interest.
I know first-hand how helpful the Member Assistance Program (MAP) counselling program can be in times of crisis. However, there are some weaknesses to the MAP which undermine the utility and accessibility of the service. The LSO should think about how to improve the delivery of mental health support services, including proactive support for members who are struggling to keep up with their professional responsibilities.
I have great sympathy to anyone suffering from mental health or addiction issues. We must continue to support the Member Assistance Program which is currently offered to all licencees, students and their families for free. Being a member of both Professional Regulation and Proceedings Authorization I have seen first hand the huge steps the LSO has taken in this direction. It is a difficult challenge to both protect the public while dealing with capacity issues.
Lawyer wellness – lawyering is not always a cushy profession. Lawyers in our ranks suffer from various issues alcohol addiction, drug addiction, mental illness. I seek more compassionate ways to deal with lawyers facing these issues.
Our efforts in this area have been pretty limited to date. We need to do more.
Vacations and Marvel movies.
The LSO should continue to play a role in promoting awareness of mental health issues in the profession and ensuring that proper supports are in place. It should ensure that mental health considerations are a priority in the discipline sphere.
Le Barreau devrait continuer à promouvoir la bonne santé mentale dans la profession et assurer les soutiens en place. Les considérations de santé mentale doivent être de l`avant dans les causes disciplinaires.
After 32 years I understand the need to provide assistance to licensees who need help when problems arise – I support.
Take time off. Have serious fellowship with your friends. Meditate and pray. And avoid addictions.
Many bencher candidates have done much to raise the visibility of this issue, and I applaud them. I think that electing benchers who pledge to make this a priority is essential, especially as the increased visibility of those who are willing to say that it is not shameful to have struggled with these issues–especially if they have struggled with these issues themselves–is central. I believe that these candidates, if elected, would also be well-positioned to evaluate how our assistance programs might be supplemented and promoted.
We have an ongoing duty and obligation to assist the members of our profession to have education and knowledge in the area of improving mental health and to ensure that members are fully aware of the various resources and supports which are available to them.
I can do no better here than point to everything Orlando Da Silva, LSM has done and stands for in this regard. For me personally, the happiest day in my life was when I secured recognition that Wing Commander Byron Rawson, DFC, a young law student who suffered a breakdown and killed himself after returning from overseas, had died as a result of his service. This was first time a post-discharge WWII soldier who killed himself has been officially recognized as having died as a result of service. My saddest day was when the Benchers decided that they would not use Rawson’s sacrifice to educate young lawyers and law student on mental health and instead just quietly added his name to the LSO’s WWII Memorial. We must use every possible opportunity to help members of the profession identify and deal with mental health issue.
Mental health is an issue that’s starting to emerge on the agenda but has been with us since the invention of lawyers. It’s been ignored for too long.
We have become more aware of mental health issues. We need to focus on having a “healthy” bar both mentally and financially. many lawyer aspire to practice law but cant afford to do so because of various factor. we must provide mental health service whenever possible
A lawyer’s stock in trade is their ability to manage conflict. Constant engagement in the conflict and trauma suffered by others takes its toll. The Law Society is in a unique position to through programs and partnerships with a multiplicity of groups to help address the challenge of mental health among lawyers. Prime among those is strong support of the Lawyer Assistance Program. We need to enhance and expand these partnerships to serve the needs of all lawyers.
This is becoming an ever increasing concern as mental health is coming out of the shadows. The MAP initiative has been very successful and their intervention perhaps should be mandated by the Tribunal under relevant circumstances. More programmes emphasizing work/life balance could come under CPD.
This needs to be a focus of the LSO. Greater resources and support for mental health are needed.
Mental health issues are a major reason for complaints made against lawyers by clients, fellow practitioners and the court. They are a major contributor to disciplinary measures. Mental health is a medical matter and is one that can have a devastating effect on a lawyer’s career, through no fault of his or her own. The LSO should take the lead in addressing the mental health needs of practitioners.
An ombudsman office at the LSO, to which members can reach out confidentially if they are suffering from a mental health crisis would be a good way to address mental health needs in a confidential manner before these health issues lead to more serious problems for clients and for the lawyer.
Your mental health rarely is hurt by a one time big thing, but occurs over many years of smaller little things. It is difficult when client confidentiality and codes of silence make many feel that they suffer alone or not know that they are suffering at all. I believe that the LSO has made strides in awareness of the fact it happens and what the signs are if it is happening to you or someone around you. I have benefited from Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and would like to see more mentoring and reach out to more members if only to tell them it is ok and you are feeling the way that you are.
Society is grappling with mental health issues and looking for ways to alleviate suffering and improve outcomes in mental health. This is beyond the scope of a legal regulator and best left to society at large to address. The LSO ought to be sensitive to and accommodate mental health issues when determining issues of competence and discipline.
I support the mental health initiatives put in place by LSO, such as the Members Assistance Program. Lawyers are at the front lines of helping other people with their problems but lack the resources and support required to deal with the trauma associated with rendering these services. In general, the LSO can do more to support it’s membership.
I believe that enhancing and promoting the use of mental health services available to lawyers is important and should be a priority for the LSO. I support the work of the Mental Health Task Force and Working Group that is focused on implementing proactive initiatives to promote mental health and well-being in the legal profession.
In addition, Law Society Tribunal staff, counsel and members should receive specialized training in mental health and addiction issues to ensure that these issues are properly and sensitively addressed should they arise in the context of disciplinary proceedings.
We need to ensure that we are providing proactive support to lawyers who are suffering from mental health issues. We also need to make sure they are not in the discipline system.
I need to learn more about this issue before commenting.
Having a daughter who has had serious challenges with mental health, I am glad to see that the stigma, while still there, is certainly taking a beating! However, I do not believe that it is the responsibility of the LSO to provide costly program to enhance mental health. LSO cannot be the be all and end all to everybody. The LSO is a licensing body. Not a mental health care provider.