406 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 3 MAY 2020
This time I approached Bena Stock at LAP. I knew she had successfully
navigated being both a mother and a lawyer. Bena helped me through this
terribly stressful time, meeting with me regularly and giving me helpful
tools to deal with my mood and anxiety, on top of the anti-depressants I was
prescribed by my family physician. Most importantly, Bena gave me the
reassurance I needed to regain my professional and personal self-esteem
and get back to work.
By January 2019, I hit the ground running. I can sincerely say that I have
never had a more successful year. I ran four challenging trials, including a
liability trial for a severely brain-injured plaintiff, a high-risk medical malpractice
jury trial and a contentious historical sexual abuse trial. I also participated
as co-counsel in the Ahuja matter before the Law Society, an
opportunity to put my knowledge and compassion for those suffering from
the disease of addiction to good use.
I felt my fire for the practice of law again. Most rewarding of all, I felt I
was truly helping my clients.
I said in my introduction that I have been fortunate, not unfortunate, to
encounter various crises in the last ten years. I truly believe this, because
each crisis has given me the gift of ever-growing wisdom, patience, understanding
and compassion for my fellow human beings, including for my
personal injury clients, many of whom suffer from mental health conditions
in addition to their physical injuries.
But I did not receive these gifts simply by surviving; I received them with
the help I was able to access through LAP.
I have also learned that I am not weak. I am human. And I am stronger
than I have ever been before.
While I am one hundred per cent respectful of the need for anonymity
for others, I elected to accept Derek’s invitation to share my story at a Law
Society benchers’ meeting. I am now taking the invitation one step further,
by publishing my story here, in the Advocate—with my name attached.
I am prepared to do so because the stigma associated with mental illness
and addiction is still a serious issue in our profession, and stigma prevents
many who are suffering from reaching out to get the help they need. Derek
tells me the statistics show that just seven per cent of lawyers suffering
from addiction and thirty per cent of lawyers suffering from mental health
issues reach out for help.
These are alarming statistics because, left untreated, mental health disorders
and addiction create unnecessary risk to the well-being of our
lawyers, staff and clients and of the public at large. Conversely, improving
access to treatment mitigates the risk.