Marie-Jeanne Léonard, Helen-Maria Vasiliadis, Alain Brunet

Marie-Jeanne Léonard

Title of Presentation:
The Economic Impact of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Canadian Attorneys

Name of Institution:
McGill University, Douglas Research Institute

Oral Presentation



Attorneys can be repeatedly exposed to traumatic details throughout their career, such as conjugal violence testimonies, crime scenes photos, drawings of an abused child, etc. This can lead to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, without the attorney personally experiencing the trauma. The law professional environment is uncompromising, competitive, and somewhat stoic. Suffering from PTSD symptoms due to the profession itself is ill perceived among peers and is a risk for an attorney’s reputation.

Studies regarding the subject are scarce. Only 10 studies investigated the problematic. PTSD is known to have an economic impact, but it has never been investigated among the specific population of Canadian attorneys. A study conducted on Northern Irelanders suffering from PTSD found enormous amounts: over £27 million in health cares and over £138.9 million in loss of productivity at work in 2008. The present study aims to reveal the economic costs related to attorneys suffering from PTSD symptoms, which are supported by law firms (private), as well as by ratepayers (public). Both indirect (loss of productivity at work, quality of life) and direct (health care use, health professional’s consultations, medication intake) costs have been assessed. This is a longitudinal experimental study with a commodity sample (n=159). Descriptive statistics, multivariate regression analyses (including gender, age, passed traumatic events, matrimonial status, years of experience, level of education) and t-tests will be conducted. Final results will be available May 2018. Expected: the more an attorney suffers from PTSD symptoms, the more the costs will be elevated.


Innovative Advancements

This study is the first step to revealing to the Canadian Bar Associations the impact of PTSD symptoms among Canadian attorneys in a quantitative and economic language. It will also represent a guide of reference for the allocation of resources from governmental and law associations, which are nearly nonexistent in the field of law. Based on the expected results, we will recommend to the different provincial Bars associations and legal associations to allocate more resources to attorneys, create support groups, develop online workshops to prevent the development of PTSD symptoms and the inclusion of mandatory university courses on the risks of the profession. The approach of health economics to illustrate and highlight the problematic of attorney’s well-being is innovative. No studies have tackled the issue in attorneys before, making it the first study to raise awareness in attorneys in such a way.