Who We Are
The Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society (Assist) is an organization that helps Alberta lawyers, articling students, law students, and dependent family members with personal issues.
Led by our Executive Director, Loraine Champion who has more than 35 years’ experience practicing law, we understand the unique problems and challenges faced by the legal profession. Our committed volunteers and staff provide confidential, compassionate, non-judgmental and knowledgeable help, including outreach, support and education. We seek to build collegiality and community among our peers and to promote health and well-being for all.
We are a registered Canadian charity with formal objects, approved by the Canada Revenue Agency. These objects can be summarized as
- to educate Alberta legal professionals and families about alcohol and drug use, mental illness and emotional distress,
- to provide professional counselling and peer support, and
- to reduce the incidence of addiction, mental illness and emotional distress through education and coping strategies.
Assist’s services are confidential. We do not disclose or share any personal information about people using our services.
Stigma is one of the largest barriers to lawyers and students seeking help. Research shows that lawyers are reluctant to ask for help because they fear professional and personal consequences if others found out.
Mental health and substance use issues are treatable illnesses and not moral failures. Educating the legal profession and larger community (including potential clients) is key to breaking down stigma.
The sheer number of lawyers seeking assistance is among the most powerful anti-stigma tools we have. Annually, 7-10% of Alberta lawyers accessed professional counselling through Assist. Lawyers facing mental health and substance use issues should not feel alone because they are not alone. Assist is here to help and to normalize help-seeking from appropriate sources.
In March of 2021, Assist celebrated 25 years as an incorporated society with a mandate to help lawyers in Alberta.
In 2007, Assist was qualified as a charitable organization for the purposes of the Income Tax Act (Canada). This means that we can issue tax receipts to Canadians who donate funds to support our work.