Lawyer Well-Being FAQs

The Law Society recognizes that lawyers are human beings, each with a unique set of personal and professional experiences, and that their well-being can affect their ability to fulfill their professional responsibilities. Lawyers who are well and thriving are more likely to contribute to the effective delivery of legal services and the public’s positive perception and trust in the legal profession.

The Law Society has an interest in supporting legal professionals’ well-being in order to protect and promote the public interest; lawyers who are in a strong, healthy position to meet their responsibilities will ultimately reduce the likelihood of professional issues associated with a health issue. The Law Society’s commitment to your well-being is grounded in a responsibility to uphold ethical standards, ensure the quality of legal services and create a healthy and sustainable legal community.

In 2022, the Federation of Law Societies, in collaboration with Canadian law societies and the Canadian Bar Association, partnered with the Université de Sherbrooke to conduct a national study on the psychological health of legal professionals. Based on the responses of over 7,000 legal professionals, the subsequent report highlights the prevalence of mental health concerns and substance use issues within the legal profession and showcases the urgent need for more support and resources for professionals facing these challenges.

Read the Executive Summary of the National Study: National Study on the Health & Wellness Determinants of Legal Professionals in Canada: Executive Summary

Read the full report: National Study on the Health & Wellness Determinants of Legal Professionals in Canada: Full Report.

Read the recommendations report: National Study on the Health & Wellness Determinants of Legal Professionals in Canada: Recommendations Report.

Well-being encompasses our physical, mental and emotional health, and significantly impacts your overall quality of life. Being in good physical and mental shape can help you be more productive and perform at your best.  

As a lawyer, taking care of your well-being is an important aspect of equipping you to handle the challenges of the profession, where both the demands and stakes can be high. Your well-being can impact your ability to focus, make decisions and solve problems effectively. In addition to providing a strong foundation for the delivery of quality services, taking steps to care for your well-being is an investment in your success, happiness, and overall sense of fulfilment.

There are concrete steps you can take to care for your well-being and address health concerns you may experience over the course of your career. The confidential services listed below provide a range of options for accessing resources and support.

No. All the listed services are confidential and no one at the Law Society or your workplace will know you have contacted or utilized these programs unless you tell them.

There is no exchange of information between the Law Society and the Lawyers Assistance Program, TELUS Heath, LifeSpeak or any other mental health providers that identifies the individuals utilizing their services. Although LifeSpeak and TELUS Health One periodically report anonymized, aggregate data for the sole purpose of evaluating the success of the programs and tailoring content, the Law Society does not receive information about individual users. Additionally, like lawyers, mental health professionals offering counselling services through the listed services have ethical and legal obligations to protect your privacy and confidentiality. If you have questions about the confidentiality of a specific service you are considering using, it is quite reasonable to ask the service provider about it to get the clarification you need to feel comfortable proceeding.

The Law Society is committed to respecting your privacy and confidentiality when it comes to the services you access, and does not monitor, investigate or discipline lawyers on the basis that they are experiencing well-being issues or seeking support. Rather, the Law Society’s focus is on ensuring that the programs it promotes offer a safe and confidential space to obtain support and guidance.

The Lawyers Assistance Program is a confidential service that provides peer support, counselling, referrals and peer interventions for lawyers, their families, support staff and articled students who need help with alcohol or chemical dependencies, stress, depression or other personal problems. Based on the concept of “lawyers helping lawyers,” LAP relies on a network of volunteers from within the BC legal community.

Although the Law Society funds LAP as a service to the profession, the program is entirely independent, and all inquiries and interactions are strictly confidential from the Law Society.

To learn more about LAP, check out the Lawyers Assistance Program of BC website.

TELUS Health One, previously known as LifeWorks, is an employee assistance program funded by the Law Society that offers free, confidential, 24/7 support for issues related to mental, physical, social and financial well-being for articled students, lawyers and their immediate families.

Services provided by TELUS Health One include confidential consultations, access to information and resources, connections to community agencies, supports, and referrals to counselling. You can contact TELUS Health One for advice, support, resources and referrals to help you manage any challenge or concern, whether personal or professional; no issue is silly or too small.

Log in to the Member Portal to access the group login details for TELUS Health One.

LifeSpeak is a digital wellness platform that the Law Society subscribes to for the purposes of providing lawyers with free, confidential and anonymous access to a range of resources and content, including short, digestible videos, live Q&A web-chats with mental health experts and blog posts. The Ask an Expert function provides a forum featuring qualified mental health professionals responding live to anonymous questions; users can log in to ask a question or read the transcript at later point in time. LifeSpeak provides accessible and engaging content is designed to empower individuals to take care of their well-being and make positive changes through practical tips that can be implemented into daily life.

Log in to the Member Portal to access the group login details for LifeSpeak.

Finding ways to maintain or enhance your well-being is a personal journey, and it's important to find resources that resonate with you. You can explore the options below at your own pace and choose those that align with your learning style and interests.

LifeSpeak is an excellent option for those who do not want to speak to a counsellor, but are looking to develop practical strategies and insights into well-being through learning resources, such as short videos, blogs and Q&A forums. TELUS Health One and LAP also have a range of resources and services that do not require you to talk with a counsellor.

You may also want to review this list of self-help resources to familiarize yourself with other programs and resources that are focused on different aspects of well-being.

If you are looking for other mental health or substance use related services, you may want to consult with your physician or healthcare professional. The BC government has also compiled a list of available resources in the province, which can be found at Resources | HealthLink BC.

Taking care of your well-being doesn't have to be time-consuming. Although it may feel overwhelming in the moment, even small, consistent efforts can have a positive impact over time. Here are some strategies to consider, even when you're feeling overwhelmed or short on time:

  • Review this list of self-help resources for helpful tips and support for your well-being, including mindfulness and self-care.
  • Contact a Practice Advisor: Practice Advisors can hear you out if you need to vent or strategize and can help you make a plan moving forward. No issue is silly or too small. Learn more about Practice Advisors here: Practice Advice.
  • LifeSpeak: Consider sampling the resources on LifeSpeak’s digital wellness platform. You can also review LifeSpeak’s video content as a podcast, or by reading transcripts of their online materials. Learn more about LifeSpeak here: LifeSpeak.

Even when you're busy, it's important to find ways to prioritize your well-being. In addition to investing in your health, happiness, and effectiveness in both your personal and professional life, focusing on well-being can guard against burnout, decreased productivity, and developing health issues.

For some lawyers, taking a break from practice can be an important step towards improving their well-being. Some of the options for doing so are described below. You can always call a Practice Advisor to discuss which options might be best suited to your circumstances.

Locums: Locums may be an option if you are needing to take time away from practice and don’t have colleagues or others available to cover your workload. Locums are short-time employees or independent contractors that are available to provide temporary practice coverage to lawyers requiring time away from practice for any reason, including health-related leave, maternity or parental leave, bereavement leave, vacation, or to lawyers that need a reduction in their individual practice load.

To learn more about the Law Society’s locum roster, go to Locums.

Custodian: A custodian is a practising lawyer who steps in to either manage or terminate a law practice, depending on the specific circumstances of the lawyer requiring a custodianship. If a lawyer is unable to continue to practise law because of illness, death, retirement, suspension or disbarment, the Law Society may apply to the court for the appointment of a custodian to take over the law practice.  To learn more about custodianships, go to Custodianships: When Lawyers Can No Longer Run their Practice.

Part-time indemnity coverage: You are eligible to apply for part-time indemnity coverage if you are engaged in the private practice of law, related professional services and activities that further those services for an average of 25 hours per week or less over a consecutive six-month period. As part-time practice enables lawyers to maintain their practising status while reducing their hours of work and insurance fees, this option may be of assistance to individuals that require additional time to address personal issues, including health issues. Importantly, part-time practice does not permit practising full-time for a portion of the year and not practising at all for the balance of the year. To learn more about part-time indemnity coverage, go to Part-time Indemnity Coverage.

Non-practising status:  Changing to non-practising status may be an option for lawyers that require an extended leave from practice for health or other reasons. To learn more about non-practising status, go to Return to Practice.

Supporting a colleague during challenging times can make a significant difference in their life. It can also be difficult to know how to help.  Here are some steps that you can take to assist someone you are concerned about:

  • Call a Practice Advisor: Practice Advisors can help you navigate issues with personal coping, stress and relationship management. Learn more about Practice Advisors at Practice Advice.
  • Call the Equity Advisor: The Law Society provides the lawyers, articled students, law students, and employees of legal professionals in British Columbia with free, voluntary and confidential services of an Equity Advisor, who can assist with resolving concerns about discrimination, harassment, and bullying. Learn more about the Equity Advisor at Equity Advisor.
  • Contact LAP: LAP will reach out to a lawyer once the program has received two independent calls regarding the lawyer’s behaviour. Learn more about LAP’s resources on helping another lawyer here: Help Someone | LAPBC.

Supporting someone’s well-being does not mean you’re responsible for “fixing” them. However, providing a caring, non-judgmental space for them to share their feelings and experiences can make a significant impact on their journey to better health.

No. Experiencing mental health issues or concerns is a common human experience. Acknowledging these issues and accessing resources and support services is a sign of strength, not weakness; it is a positive step towards maintaining your well-being, fulfilling your professional responsibilities and demonstrating your commitment to addressing these challenges responsibly.

If a concern has been raised, or a report has been received indicating that a lawyer’s health issue may have contributed to alleged misconduct, the lawyer may be eligible for the Alternative Discipline Process (ADP), a program that diverts lawyers that are involved in a complaint investigation from the regular disciplinary process to an alternative process focused on the support and management of underlying health issues. Participation in the program is both voluntary and confidential.

The goal of the ADP is to encourage eligible lawyers with the opportunity to address their health issues earlier in the investigation process, so they can return to serving their clients diligently, and in accordance with their ethical and professional obligations. In this way, the ADP aims to protect and promote the public interest by putting lawyers in a stronger, healthier position to meet their professional responsibilities, and ultimately to reduce the likelihood that the misconduct associated with a health issue will escalate or recur.

Even where a matter is not eligible for referral into the ADP, evidence of a nexus between a lawyer’s health issue and any alleged misconduct may be considered by the Discipline Committee or the Tribunal as a mitigating circumstance, warranting a less severe disciplinary outcome. Evidence of having sought assistance for a well-being issue may be considered as further evidence supporting mitigation.

To learn more about the ADP, go to Alternative Discipline Process.