The 21st Annual Lawyers Assistance Program of British Columbia Volunteers’ Training and Retreat was held March 10th to 12th, 2023 at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort. This marked the return of the retreat after a four year hiatus due to the restrictions from COVID. Fifty-two volunteers, comprised of lawyers and judges from various regions of British Columbia, participated in this year’s retreat. The retreat is one of LAPBC’s on-going initiatives to fulfill its mandate of creating and promoting a healthy legal community. The weekend was instructive and experiential, and provided an opportunity for the participants to connect with the supportive community that LAPBC provides.
LAPBC Executive Director, Derek LaCroix, opened the weekend retreat with the traditional Friday evening Welcome Circle where he introduced the theme of this year’s retreat: Recognizing Possibilities. Participants were then invited to introduce themselves and share their hopes for what they wished the weekend to provide for them. This was followed by an Open 12 Step CODA meeting led by LAPBC Assistant Director, Shari Pearlman, where participants shared their experience about the topic, Living With Families.
Saturday began with an early morning Yoga class. This was followed by a 12 Step NA meeting chaired by LAPBC Lawyer Counsellor, Susan MacKenzie. After breakfast, it was time for the keynote speaker, Dr. Ray Baker, MD. Dr. Baker delivered an exciting interactive workshop: Building A Wellbeing Network Through Appreciative Inquiry. After talking about recovery, wellbeing, and lifestyle medicine, Dr. Baker led the participants through a series of exercises to engage positive change in lawyer wellbeing through the Four D’s of Appreciative Inquiry:
The energy in the room was electric as the groups presented an amazing array of creative ideas. The workshop concluded with the participants rating their favourite ideas as feedback for LAPBC.
Following lunch, volunteer Jeff Naylor presented a workshop on Meditation. This provided the opportunity to explore the focus of one’s attention and tune into being in the present moment. This was practiced in two environments: at first, in the workshop room; and then, outside overlooking the lake and the snow-capped mountains. There was also a 12 Step meeting chaired by LAPBC volunteer Mark Tweedy.
On Saturday afternoon, LAPBC Assistant Director, Shari Pearlman presented an insightful two-part workshop on Effective Mentoring. In this interactive workshop, participants explored the types of mentoring, the dynamics of building mentoring relationships, how to use their strengths in mentoring, establishing boundaries, and how to create a mentoring plan. Participants also learned about the importance of self-compassion.
Saturday night’s dinner was a delicious buffet. It was followed by a thoroughly entertaining and often hilarious talent show which featured musical performances with audience sing-a-long, poems, and comedy acts which had the attendees laughing heartily. For those that wished to attend, this was followed by an Open 12 Step AA meeting.
On Sunday morning, participants “sprung forward” with the arrival of the spring daylight savings time adjustment. After breakfast, LAPBC Lawyer Counsellor, Michael Kahn, presented an inspiring workshop on Imagining Possibilities. Participants were presented with a series of famous quotes and asked to pick one to reflect upon and share their reflections with their group. Participants were encouraged to engage their imagination and open themselves up to envisioning the possibilities in life for themselves, for their community, and for the legal profession.
The retreat concluded with everyone forming the traditional Closing Circle. Derek LaCroix thanked the volunteers, emphasized the fundamental role they play in LAPBC, and welcomed them to step forward into new volunteer roles with LAPBC. The circle concluded with participants being asked to remember what they shared at the Welcome Circle that they had come to the retreat for, and to share with the Closing Circle, a word, that spoke to what they had received at the retreat. “Connection” was the most-stated word. The volunteer retreat was a powerful and transformative experience, which served to enhance the volunteers’ skill-sets and life perspective, and re-unite the LAPBC community.
The 22nd annual volunteer training event will be held at Harrison Hot Springs March 8 to 10, 2024.