The Advisory: Volume 8, Issue 2, April 2010

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Lawyers at Risk Roundtable First Step Towards Improvements

By Carsten Jensen, QC, Bencher and Chair, Lawyers at Risk Task Force

In examining questions around “lawyers at risk”, a Law Society of Alberta task force will be convening a roundtable discussion in May.

Last year, the Law Society Benchers established a task force to look at “lawyers at risk”.

Specifically, many of the lawyers in the Law Society’s disciplinary process appear to have, as a root cause of their difficulty, some serious personal problems that may include mental or physical illness, addiction, bereavement, or other problems.

Presently, there are many services targeted towards such lawyers, including the Law Society’s Practice Review program and Practice Advisors. The Assist program operates independently from the Law Society with funding from the Law Society and other sources. One of the questions we have is whether the services presently available are coordinated as well as they might be, and whether there are gaps. In addition, we are very interested in issues of risk identification, prevention and education. In order to review these

In order to review these questions, the task force is convening a roundtable discussion to be held in Calgary on May 7, 2010, to bring together various stakeholders in the current system, and also several speakers from other jurisdictions who have considered these issues.

The Law Society has as a goal to be a model regulator in the public interest. The task force will report back to the Benchers, after the roundtable discussion, on the current services available to “lawyers at risk” in Alberta, and on the educational and interventional opportunities that exist. We will report on the best practices from other jurisdictions. It is hoped that this report will be the first step toward a consideration of improvements that can be undertaken here in Alberta.

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