OBA Launches Peer Support Network for Lawyers Living with Disabilities

  • September 26, 2023

First-of-its-kind initiative connects lawyers to resources and to each other for meaningful support

TORONTO – The Ontario Bar Association (OBA) is launching a first-of-its-kind Peer Support Network for Lawyers Living with Disabilities, providing a robust complement of constructive resources, tools and engagement opportunities for lawyers.

The initiative is close to the heart of OBA President Kelly McDermott, who has herself relied on support from the inclusive, informed and empathetic OBA lawyer community to see her through challenging times, and who has made creating accessible support networks for all lawyers, to help them in their careers and lives, the focus of her presidential mandate.

“As a lawyer living with a disability, a single mother, and a caretaker to someone with a disability, I know both how isolating it can be to feel alone in your struggle and how empowering it can be to connect with lawyers with similar lived experience,” says McDermott. “I saw a Peer Support Network for Lawyers Living with Disabilities as the answer for me and for lawyers like me who face unique challenges in the workplace and in achieving a balance between work and home life.”

This new support network provides lawyers living with disabilities opportunities to connect on-line and in person for meaningful exchange and support, including regular Peer Support Meetings, where lawyers can candidly and confidentially share lived experiences and offer each other understanding in a safe, judgement-free space, all while building camaraderie, breaking stigmas, and sharing solutions. The network will also provide the OBA with the advice that will allow us to continue to serve lawyers well. 

A calendar of upcoming Peer Support Meetings can be found on the newly developed OBA Peer Support Network portal, a consolidated support hub that also offers helpful links and resources, sorted by region, insightful articles, and a discussion forum for the Lawyers Living with Disabilities support network, and for the OBA’s already-established Parent and Caregiver and Unite and Support networks.

The Peer Support Network for Lawyers Living with Disabilities is a key component of a broader PeerLink initiative to centralize and build new avenues and tools for lawyers to tap into powerful peer support.

“I have experienced firsthand the benefits of belonging to a supportive community that makes careers more satisfying and steps up when life and work are challenging, and as president I want to ensure that every member who needs support when life shows up will turn to the OBA and find exactly what they need to endure, adapt and thrive,” says McDermott.

“I’m proud of how, with the OBA’s Peer Support Network for Lawyers Living With Disabilities, we have been able to translate the magic of the organic peer support that comes from the lawyer community into tangible benefits for our members.”