National Well-Being Study

National Well-being Study Launched

Legal professionals across Canada have received invitations to participate in the National Well-Being Study, a project undertaken by the Federation in collaboration with Canada’s law societies and the Canadian Bar Association (“CBA”).

A team of researchers at the Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec led by Dr. Nathalie Cadieux  is implementing the study. It is the most comprehensive study on the mental health of the legal profession to be done in Canada.

The idea for the national study came from the Federation’s 2019 Annual Conference (The Practice of Well-Being: Exploring the Legal Regulator’s Role). Dr. Nathalie Cadieux of the Université de Sherbrooke gave a presentation on the results of a five-year study she conducted on the mental health of Quebec lawyers in partnership with the Barreau du Québec. Dr. Cadieux proposed the idea of a national study and a dialogue among the project collaborators – the Federation, the law societies and the CBA, resulting in the present national project. A report on the 2019 Conference presentations is here.

The national study will mirror the Quebec study and will proceed in two overlapping phases, each taking up to two years to complete. The goal of the study is to better understand the mental health challenges facing legal professionals in Canada. The project builds on the methodology and results of the five-year project by the same research team completed for the Barreau du Québec that looked at the psychological health of lawyers in Quebec (2014-2019). A copy of the report to the Barreau is available here.

Phase One of the study involves an in-depth survey of legal professionals in Canada, including lawyers, Quebec notaries, Ontario paralegals and articling students based on an online survey. The research team completed the testing phase in May, and an online questionnaire is being rolled out to members of the legal profession on a staggered schedule.

It will take participants 30 to 45 minutes to complete the questionnaire. The questions reflect a multidimensional approach that takes into consideration factors linked to the workplace, society, the family and the individual. The technology will allow respondents to leave the online form and return to it at any time, as often as they wish, and continue from where they left off.

Once survey responses have been collected, the research team will analyze the data. The study adheres to rigorous research and security protocols through the Université de Sherbrooke. All responses are anonymous and will remain strictly confidential. Only the research team will have access to survey data in aggregate form.

The data analysis will help the law societies, the Federation and the CBA better understand the psychological health and well-being risk factors (and factors that support well-being) specific to the practice of law in Canada, both prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results will also guide the decision makers in analyzing and developing support programs or practices to improve the conditions of law practice in Canada.

The research team expects the collection of data will be completed by the end of June, and the analysis of data and preparation of reports completed by the spring, 2022.

Dr. Cadieux’s team has also been successful in securing funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for Phase Two of the study. This phase involves qualitative interviews with legal professionals designed to develop a more detailed understanding of the well-being issues in each participating jurisdiction. Interviews will begin in the fall of 2021 and will continue through 2022.

To learn more about the National Well-being Study and the survey, please consult the FAQs.

The study is a collaborative initiative of all law societies in Canada, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and the Canadian Bar Association. It is led by the Federation through a national Steering Committee. The composition of the Committee is regionally representative of Canada and reflects a diversity of expertise and perspectives.

Steering Committee Members

  • Morgan Cooper, Past-President, Federation of Law Societies of Canada (Chair)
  • Marlaine Anderson-Lindsay, Vice President, Law Society of Yukon
  • Don Anthony, Q.C., Past President, Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Sylvie Champagne, Secrétaire de l’ordre, Barreau du Québec
  • Pooja Chugh, Chair, CBA Well-Being Subcommittee, Canadian Bar Association
  • Doron Gold, Staff Clinician, Homewood Health
  • Brook Greenberg, Chair, Mental Health Task Force, Law Society of British Columbia
  • Erin Kleisinger, Q.C., Federation Council member nominated by the Law Society of Saskatchewan
  • Cara-Marie O’Hagan, Executive Director, Policy, Law Society of Ontario