The Advisory: Volume 9, Issue 3, December 2011

Click here to view the PDF version of The Advisory

Assist Offers Support to the Legal Profession

Lawyers Helping Lawyers: Assist provides peer support for Alberta lawyers to address personal and professional issues in a safe and confidential environment. The Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society (Assist) offers lawyers and articling students a chance to receive and offer support through a Peer Support program.

What is the Peer Support program?

  • Peer Support occurs when someone shares their knowledge and experience, whether practical, emotional or social, to help another person.
  • Peer Support is a voluntary service offered through Assist that can be used on its own or in conjunction with professional counselling services.
  • Peer Support is confidential, within transparent legal & ethical boundaries, in all situations.
  • All interactions are discreet, confidential, and respectful.

What can I expect as a participant?

  • After contacting Assist, you will be quickly matched with a Peer Support volunteer who has shared a similar experience or who can relate to you.
  • Your Peer Support match will be available to talk, share resources, and attend support meetings with you.
  • You can shape the Peer Support relationship based on your needs, while maintaining respect for personal boundaries (there is no minimum or maximum amount of interactions).
  • A relationship of trust and confidentiality with someone who can relate to your experiences.

What can I expect as a volunteer?

  • An opportunity to help lawyers who are in need of emotional, personal, or careerrelated support.
  • Training outlining your responsibilities and developing skills as a Peer Support Volunteer.
  • A chance to offer support, encouragement, and referral to appropriate resources.
  • The ability to accept or decline peer support matches depending on your comfort level and previous experiences.
  • A network of support through Assist’s Peer Support program and Professional psychological services.

How do I get involved?

Participant: Call Carolyn McCartney, Peer Support Program Coordinator at 403-537- 5508 or toll free, 1-877-737-5508. Carolyn is willing to listen and will arrange a Peer Support match.

Volunteer: Visit our website for an online application at or call Carolyn McCartney, Program Coordinator at 403-537-5508 or toll free, 1-877- 737-5508.

Letter from the Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench

October 7, 2011

Dear Members of the Bar,

The Alberta Lawyers Assistance Society (Assist) is an independent, charitable society that helps Alberta lawyers, law students and their immediate families with personal issues.

As Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, I believe it is important to support Assist and the work it does for our legal community.

There is a program for judges with a similar aim. The role of lawyers and judges alike is one that is marked by high expectations. Making good decisions sometimes involves taking positions that may not be popular. Positions taken and represented are often subject to the scrutiny of peers and the public. This, among other things, leads members of the profession to experience unique pressures.

The need to maintain a professional image of competence, while meeting the significant responsibility as lawyers and judges make it difficult to ask for help. There is no shame in seeking the support of a professional or a peer, when needed.

Assist has a history of lawyers helping lawyers. In addition to professional counselling services, Assist has embarked on a formalized peer support program. The program matches lawyers encountering struggles with a lawyer who has an understanding of the issue and is willing to offer encouragement and hope. This is a significant initiative towards prevention. I encourage you to avail yourself of these confidential services and for you to support a colleague or family member, if help is needed. On the other hand, you may want to participate as a peer support volunteer, committee or board member and enjoy the fulfillment this unique opportunity affords.

Your involvement in Assist will help strengthen the profession and the legal community.


Yours truly,

Neil C. Wittmann

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