The holiday season is right around the corner, and while it may be a time of joy and laughter for some lawyers, for others it is a time of increased stress, anxiety and depression. Lawyers may be overwhelmed trying to balance family obligations and holiday preparations with all of the work they must finish before the year end. Others may find that the season reminds them that they are estranged from their families or are alone over the holidays. These feelings are often mixed with higher alcohol consumption due to the multiple festive parties hosted by law firms and legal associations.
It is important that lawyers put their mental health first during this time of the year. There are several resources available to lawyers who may be struggling over the next few weeks:
1. The Law Society of Ontario’s Member Assistance Program (MAP)
The MAP is a confidential service funded by (but fully independent of) the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) and LawPro. The MAP is provided by Homewood Health and provides secure telephone access to counselling, coaching, online resources and peer volunteers. Members can get professional help with issues related to addictions, mental or physical health, work-life balance, career, family and more. This program is open to lawyers, paralegals, law students or paralegal students. Similar lawyer assistance programs can be found in each province.
2. Your Employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
If you are employed by a law firm or you are in-house or work for the government, your employer likely has an EAP that you can access as well. An EAP is similar to the MAP discussed above but is provided by your firm/company.
3. The Canadian Bar Association’s Wellness Subcommittee
This committee exists to help legal professionals manage personal, emotional, health and wellness challenges. Their website provides several resources including a free online course: “Mental Health and Wellness in the Legal Profession”.
4. The LSO’s Coach and Advisor Network (CAN)
While the CAN does not provide counselling or therapy, it provides an opportunity to reach out to Coaches or Advisors who are practicing lawyers and paralegals. Sometimes stress can be alleviated by simply talking through a legal issue with another lawyer. An “Advisor” provides a one-off 30-minute phone call to deal with substantive law or procedure in the context of a particular client file. Being paired with a “Coach” is a longer commitment (approx. three months) that deals with assistance with practice management systems or skills development. This program is free. See our blog post on this service here.
5. PracticePro by LawPro
PracticePro is an online source that provides risk management, claims prevention and law practice management information to Ontario Lawyers. They have a section on Wellness and Balance that provides some helpful information.
6. The Ontario Bar Association’s Mindful Lawyer CPD Series
The OBA has archived videos that are complimentary for OBA members focusing on mental wellness. There are 19 different videos with helpful topics ranging from: “Re-Setting Your Priorities: How Can You Be a Happier Lawyer?” to “Support Networks for Lawyers Who Work Alone” and “Avoid Burnout: Train for Resilience”.
7. Lawyers with Depression – Blog
This is a blog by an American attorney, Dan Lukasik (and guest authors) to help law students, lawyers, and judges cope with and heal from depression.
8. Flex Legal Network
Yes, we can be a resource as well for lawyers struggling this season. If you are a lawyer who is overwhelmed with work, consider outsourcing some of your tasks to our qualified freelance lawyers. Most of our work is litigation based (although we do assist with some corporate work as well). In particular we can assist with drafting, legal research, court appearances, etc. For more information see our Services page and our FAQs.
We also prepared a blog miniseries addressing mental wellness called “Balancing the Bar” that features three mini-mental-workouts: Mindful Breathing; Managing Stress by Expanding Your Vision; and Transform Tension.
We hope this blog post helps and if you know of any other resources we should add, please reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org