Le Dain and Mental Health in the Legal Profession

  • 08 janvier 2019
  • Ayushi Kiran, student member-at-large

The CBA has been actively working towards undoing the injustice done to late Justice Gerald Le Dain. Bonnie Brown’s documentary “One Judge Down[i]” captures the shortcomings of the judiciary then in helping him fully heal by giving him medical leave and rather forcing him off the bench.

Addressing mental concerns of legal professionals is the need of the hour. The Legal Profession Assistance Conference (LPAC) reported that lawyers have three times higher rates of alcohol and addiction and mental wellness issues than the general population. It is believed that lawyers have a suicide rate of two to three times higher than the population rate.[ii] The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) reports that “that up to 40% of law students may have significant levels of depressive symptoms.”[iii]

LPAC’s survey[iv] shows that stress/burnout and anxiety are primary mental health issues affecting the legal community, and the top two issues that were personally confronted by those surveyed (58% and 48%, respectively). Another survey[v] has reported that, "approximately 20 per cent of the entire legal profession suffers from clinically significant levels of substance abuse, depression, anxiety or some other form of psychopathology."

The legal community is on its long road to recovery from its shocking ignorance about mental illness concerns of members of the judiciary and the legal profession since the time of Justice Le Dain. In fact, the Law Society of Ontario’s Mental Health Strategy Task Force has included mental health initiatives as a strategic priority for the 2015-19 governing term.[vi]