LAPBC was born out of a rich tradition of lawyers helping lawyers and the need for a formal, organized approach to helping distressed members as the size of the bar steadily increased in British Columbia.
LAPBC began informally in 1989 with three lawyers starting an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting for lawyers. From there, Art Vertlieb, Dr. Ray Baker and Russ Mackay spearheaded efforts to develop a system to help distressed lawyers and lobby the Law Society for funding and support. In 1991, the first workshop was held to train volunteers in addictions and interventions techniques.
By 1992, LAPBC had its own office and started offering a wide variety of educational, informational and support programs, having realized that lawyers were struggling with difficulties beyond addictions. By 1996, referrals for assistance grew to the point of hiring the program’s first full-time director, Derek LaCroix and from that point forward, LAPBC offered programs across BC. In 2000, LAPBC began the tradition of hosting an annual retreat for volunteer training which continues to this day. Starting in 2001, LAPBC began hiring additional administrative staff and counselors to handle the growing number of requests and referrals for assistance around the province.
The number of requests and referrals for assistance that LAPBC receives continues to grow annually. Assistance is available to the legal community (including lawyers, judges, law students, paralegals, other law firm staff and their immediate family members) on a wide range of issues (addictions, stress, anxiety, depression, career dissatisfaction and transitions, issues with aging and retirement, family and marital issues, physical illnesses and injuries).