The Real Truth about Mental Health and Lawyers (Webinar Repeat) 

May 6, 2021
Webinar Repeat Online

Veuillez notez, cet événement sera disponible en anglais seulement.

Air Date: This is the archived version of a program presented on May 6, 2021.

Sandra Cunningham, QC (Retd), former Crown Counsel
Winston Sayson, QC (Retd), former Crown Counsel
Derek LaCroix, QC, Executive Director, Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP)
Sandra Kovacs, Kazlaw

Moderated by Sarah Sohn, Crease Harman LLP

Format: Webinar Recording
CPD Hours: 1 Hour of Approved Continuing Professional Development in BC.
Viewing of this recording will provide you with 1 hour of the ethics, professional responsibility and practice management component for your Law Society of BC reporting.

Lawyers are more likely to experience mental health challenges than almost any other profession yet are reluctant to talk about this important topic. Sandra Cunningham, QC, Winston Sayson, QC, and Sandra Kovacs shared their personal experiences with mental health challenges. Derek LaCroix, QC explained the role of the Lawyers Assistance Program of BC.


About Sandra Cunningham, QC

Sandra Cunningham, QC, received the Legacy Premier’s Award in 2016 and was inducted into the Hall of Excellence the same year. Retiring as a prosecutor after 38 years of practice, Sandra is a highly-regarded leader within the Criminal Justice Branch. 

Advocacy is a passion for Sandra. More than 15 years ago, Sandra developed advocacy training programs that are specific to Crown Counsel and have greatly enhanced the quality of the prosecution work done on behalf of B.C.’s Prosecution Service. There is no doubt that Sandra is an outstanding advocate, exceptional mentor and teacher to other lawyers, both internal and external to government. All of that notwithstanding, it cannot be forgotten that first and foremost, Sandra is an outstanding prosecutor. She has prosecuted countless difficult and serious cases, including working as co-counsel on the prosecution against serial killer Clifford Olson.

Her work has been recognized by the likes of the Vancouver Police Department and in 2005, she was awarded a Queen’s Counsel designation by the provincial Attorney General. She is greatly respected by the Judiciary, other counsel, police officers, court staff, witnesses and victims. Sandra is an extraordinary role model for other justice system participants and she exemplifies the very best that the BC Public Service has to offer.

About Winston Sayson, QC

Winston Sayson, QC is a retired Crown Counsel (Trial Prosecutor), the first Chinese-Filipino Canadian appointed as Queen’s Counsel in British Columbia, a designation he received in recognition of “exceptional merit and contribution to the legal profession.” Born and raised in the Philippines, Winston immigrated to Canada in 1981 at the age of 18. As new immigrants, the Winston's family encountered their share of challenges, yet it is precisely these challenges that brought their family closer together, as well as strengthening Winston's determination and perseverance.

Winston was a senior trial prosecutor, and had prosecuted significant and high profile cases in the CJB, and is highly regarded for his expertise in dealing with children and vulnerable victims. Winston mainly worked on files dealing with violence or sexual abuse of vulnerable victims, as well as vehicular fatalities.

It is important to be compassionate and supportive toward victims of crimes. Frequently, victims are threatened, traumatized, and in some cases terrorized. What I do first is seek to understand their fears, hurts, and where they are coming from. You have to let the victims know that you care and help them through the court process by preparing them to give compelling and credible evidence.”

About Derek LaCroix, QC

Derek LaCroix, QC joined LAP as Executive Director in 1996. With 40 years work experience, he brings a sincere and valued perspective to his commitment to both the organization and to the BC legal profession. His diverse range of interests has helped Derek become a respected leader in the legal, health care and recovery communities. He was a Commissioner of the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) and the Chair of the annual CoLAP conference for several years. He is also on several non-profit boards of societies dealing with addictions, education and spirituality. He is often called upon to present seminars and workshops throughout the province, and is tireless in his efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of legal professionals and those who care about them. He received the designation of Queen’s Counsel in 2004.

About Sandra Kovacs

Sandy joined the KazLaw team in 2016 after having worked for more than a decade as a defence counsel in aviation, medical malpractice, motor vehicle, occupiers' liability (slips and falls), and historical sexual abuse claims. Sandy now acts exclusively for injured plaintiffs and their families in these same areas of practice, but her years of experience for defendant’s gives her a unique perspective as an injury lawyer. In each area, Sandy's practice focuses on complex and catastrophic injury claims involving significant non-pecuniary and economic losses arising from traumatic brain injuries, psychological injuries (including post-traumatic stress disorder), orthopedic injuries, burn injuries, lost limbs, and chronic pain conditions.


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