The Alberta Lawyers Assistance Society had its genesis with lawyers in the recovery community in the early 1980's. Known then simply as "Lawyers helping Lawyers", many members were attending Alcoholics Anonymous and saw a continuing need for help among our colleagues.
In the words of Retired Judge Robert Philp, QC, our longest serving director:
"Much of the intelligence we garnered about our colleagues was based on what we came to call "rumour reports". We would hear about an event or a behaviour by a colleague and we would simply attend on their office or otherwise. Traveling in pairs, we were often asked "What took you so long to get here?" Other times we were told to have a "close intimate relationship with ourselves." Notwithstanding this response, we persisted, having some measured success.
As time progressed, we came to see lawyers with issues other than addictions, and we recognized we were not equipped to deal with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Within Lawyers helping Lawyers, we had a vigorous debate about another model for lawyers’ assistance. This debate eventually led to our incorporation as a society and a marked expansion of our services. In the now 25-year history of the Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society, we have no doubt saved lives. Only first responders save more lawyers’ lives than Lawyers’ Assist.
Two of our early pioneers in Lawyers helping Lawyers, Sandy Stewart and the late Jim Ross, were honoured by the Law Society of Alberta and the Canadian Bar Association for their service to the profession."
Assist will be celebrating 25 years as an incorporated society with a mandate to help lawyers in Alberta in March of 2021.
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.