The Edmonton Bar Association has been continuously active since as early as 1919. The first Constitution and By-Laws of the EBA were created in 1922. At that time, the object of the EBA was to consider, discuss and take action in respect of all matters pertaining to the practice of law and the administration of justice.` In 1922, all Edmonton-area lawyers were eligible for membership upon paying the membership dues of $2. In its early days, the EBA focussed on practical matters affecting the practice of law such as simplifying procedures or making statutes easier to apply. The Minutes of the Law Society of Alberta's Benchers meetings indicate that the EBA has throughout its history made recommendations to improve the practice of law in Alberta by providing input to various review boards, making recommendations for legislative amendments, and educating the public on the practice of law and the legal profession.
At times, the EBA has worked with the Calgary Bar Association as intermediaries between the Law Society of Alberta and its members. In the 1920, the bar associations worked to improve accountability by requesting that the Benchers of the Law Society provide information regarding the Law Society's financial situation and by requesting that their recommendations to the Law Society be given greater weight. In this period the EBA was actively involved in the establishment of the Assurance Fund and later struck a committee to provide input into the establishment of professional liability insurance for lawyers.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the EBA worked to enhance the criminal legal aid system which was created in 1963. The EBA encouraged its members to take legal aid cases seriously. In 1967, the EBA began to advocate for the payment of legal fees for `needy litigants.` Ultimately, funding was approved in 1968 for a civil legal aid system. The criminal and civil legal aid programs were combined in 1970 to be administered by the Legal Aid Society of Alberta.
The EBA has a long history of providing opportunities for members of the profession to participate in social activities. In addition to an annual banquet, a Christmas dinner and a golf tournament, the EBA and members of the medical community came together for an annual curling bonspiels. During the 1950s and 1970s, the EBA subsidized the activities of `The Second Counsel Club`, a club of Edmonton lawyers' wives. The EBA now hosts three events every year: a golf tournament, the Annual Judges' Dinner, and a Christmas party.
This brief history of the EBA is based on a historical summary that was provided by the Legal Archives Society of Alberta (LASA). LASA maintains a repository of historical records of the EBA. The EBA wishes to thank LASA for its assistance.