The Law Society makes addressing mental health and substance use issues a priority

Alternative discipline process to address mental health challenges

The Benchers adopted a recommendation of the Mental Health Task Force calling for the creation of an alternative discipline process to address circumstances in which there is a connection between a health condition and a conduct issue that has resulted in a complaint investigation. 

The Alternative Discipline Process has launched and will be piloted over three years. At the conclusion of the pilot, the Benchers will make a final determination as to whether to establish it as a permanent regulatory program.

2021 Mental Health Forum

More than 600 participants gathered virtually for a Mental Health Forum hosted by the Law Society and the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC on September 14, 2021 to listen to experts share practical strategies and advice for advancing mental health within the legal profession.

Recordings of the forum sessions are available on CLEBC’s website

National survey on health and well-being of legal professionals

The survey has now closed. Thank you for all that participated. A report is expected in 2022.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine of nearly 13,000 American lawyers found that:

  • over 36 per cent showed signs of possible alcohol dependence,
  • more than 45 per cent of responding lawyers described experiencing depression,
  • 11.5 per cent reported having had suicidal thoughts at some point in their careers, and
  • the primary barrier to lawyers seeking treatment or assistance is stigma and the fear of others finding out that they need help

Mental health and substance issues are also driving lawyers to leave the profession early, some after they have become the subject of discipline proceedings, complaints or other claims, or after experiencing interpersonal difficulties at home or at work.

The Law Society has made a commitment to improve education and support a culture shift in how the profession approaches mental health and substance use issues. As a regulator, the Law Society has vowed to identify ways to reduce stigma, and to review its discipline and admissions processes to consider how best to deal with mental health and substance use issues.

Click here to read the Spring 2018 Benchers' Bulletin feature article on mental health issues in the legal profession.

Mental Health Task Force

The Law Society's Benchers established a Mental Health Task Force at their January 28, 2018 meeting. The task force's mandate is to:

  • identify ways to reduce the stigma of mental health issues; and
  • develop an integrated mental health review concerning regulatory approaches to discipline and admissions.

Read the task force's terms of reference



Recommendation on the Development of an Alternative Discipline Process


Second Interim Report


2019 Year End Report
2019 Mid-Year Report


2018 Mid-Year Report
First Interim Report
2018 Year-End Report

Resources for lawyer wellness and support

If you or someone you know requires support, do not hesitate to reach out for help.

Addressing mental health pressures of COVID-19

This is a stressful time. There are several resources that are available to help with the mental health and social consequences of COVID-19.

Lawyers may wish to access LifeWorks, an employee assistance program funded by the Law Society that offers free, confidential, 24/7 support for articled students, lawyers and their immediate families. LifeWorks has added a COVID-19 Support Toolkit, which is continuously updated. More information on how to access LifeWorks is below.

The Lawyers Assistance Program remains open and available to offer peer support and referral services for issues including alcohol and drug dependence, stress, anxiety and depression. Meetings and consultations are available over the phone or through other means. Learn more about its services on their website.

The Canadian Mental Health Association also has resources on managing feelings of anxiety in reaction to COVID-19, available here.

The BC Psychological Association is offering the Covid-19 Psychological Support Service designed to help any BC resident who is experiencing stress, anxiety, or uncertainty due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit their website.

LifeWorks Canada

The Law Society funds personal counselling and referral services through LifeWorks Canada Ltd. Services are confidential and available at no cost to individual BC lawyers and articled students and their immediate families.

Find out answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Lifeworks' services.

There are three ways to contact LifeWorks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

  1. Call the toll-free number: 1.888.307.0590 for a confidential in-person call
  2. Log in to to learn more about the services Lifeworks provides, including website materials and access to a confidential online chat or in-person call:
    Username: lawsocietybc
    Password: healthy
  3. Download the free app on Android or IOS – simply search for “Lifeworks”. Once downloaded, open the app, click on “log in” and enter your Username and Password: lawsocietybc/healthy

Lawyers Assistance Program

The Lawyers Assistance Program provides confidential support, counselling, referrals and peer interventions for lawyers, their families, support staff and articled students who need help to deal with alcohol or chemical dependencies, stress, depression or other personal problems. For more information, visit the Lawyers Assistance Program’s website or contact them at 604.685.2171 or

Other programs and resources

BC Centre on Substance Use has a mandate to develop, help implement, and evaluate evidence-based approaches to substance use and addiction. Its core functions include research and evaluation, education and training and clinical care guidance.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (BC division) facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness.

Crisis Line Association of BC offers a call-in service for those in crisis:

  • 1-800-SUICIDE: Call 1-800-784-2433 if you are having a crisis or are concerned about someone who may be. Available 24 hours a day.
  • Call 310-6789 (no area code needed) toll-free anywhere in B.C. to access emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health and substance use issues. Available 24 hours a day.

The Government of BC offers a range of resources on its Mental Health and Substance Use resource page.

The list of resources above is not intended to be an endorsement of the organizations and is not meant to be exhaustive.