Richard David Abbott was born in Ottawa, on June 19, 1936. He attended Carleton College in 1954 and graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics. As an undergraduate student at Carleton, he was a member of the University's Canadian Officers' Training Corps and was President of Carleton's Students' Council from 1956 to 1957.
In May of 1957, Professor Abbott worked in a summer position of the Treasury Board Division of the Department of Finance as a Finance Officer. Further, he received a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Queen's University in 1960. The following year he worked as a student-at-law at the firm of Bell and Baker in Ottawa. Professor Abbott was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1962 and later that year found employment as the Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Ottawa. During that same year he went on to attend Harvard Law School and received his Master of Laws Degree in 1968. In September of 1963, Professor Abbott was appointed the first, full-time lecturer in Public Law at Carleton University. In 1970, he worked as a Grievance Adjudicator under the Public Service Staff Relations Act and an arbitrator on a part-time basis under the Ontario Labour Management Arbitration Commission Act. On July 1, 1975 he became a Professor of Law in the Department of Law and was the Chairman of the Department during the years 1967-1970.
Other academic appointments during this time were Visiting Professor, Faculty of Law, Dalhousie University (1970-1972); Visiting and Part-time Associate Professor, Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary. From 1980-1996 he was a Part-time Professor, Department of Law, and Professor of Law in the Faculty of Public Administration, Carleton University.
Professor Abbott's professional memberships include the following: Member of the Law Society of Upper Canada; Member of the International Commission of Jurists (Canadian Section); Member of the Canadian Environmental Law Association; Member of the Committee of Adjustment for the City of Ottawa; Member of the International council of Environmental Law; Member of the Public Service Staff Relations Rights Tribunal. He also assisted the Education Relations Commission of Ontario in dealing with conflicts between teachers and school boards as a Final Offer Selector and served as an arbitrator pursuant to the Ontario Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan.
Throughout his academic career, Professor Abbott has received a number of honours and awards. The following are some of these - the Carswell Prize in Legislation and Jurisprudence, Harvard Law School Fellowship, Graduating Medal from the Faculty of Law, Queen's University and the Law Society of Upper Canada Fellowship.
Published material includes "Modification and Discharge of Restrictive Conenants Affecting Freehold Land" (1960), "Readings on the Law of Environmental Quality" (1971) and "Cases and Materials of the Law of Public Authorities" (1982, 1986, and 1992).