Competition was fierce for the Burgess Paluch Pro Bono Award at the 2012 Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards, proudly sponsored by List A Barristers, with all our nominees demonstrating how lawyers are contributing to the betterment of society. But there was one standout submission – our award winner, Luke Geary, who made history in 2010 when he established Salvos Legal, a Sydney-based law firm run by the Salvation Army.
Salvos Legal, a not-for-profit commercial law firm, funds a pro bono firm called Salvos Legal Humanitarian. The unique business model allows the Salvation Army to offer free legal advice and representation to those in need, independent of donations.
“How often do you get to recreate legal aid?” said Geary in 2010.
Salvos Legal Humanitarian, and its predecessor Courtyard Legal, have so far advised and assisted in more than 4500 cases free-of-charge.
“Luke’s contribution in the legal community has had life-changing benefits to disadvantaged people who receive the pro bono legal advice and representation provided at Salvos Legal,” said Kylie Gersbach, senior policy officer at CREDIT in the crime prevention division of the Department of Attorney General & Justice.
Luke was unable to attend the Award’s ceremony. In accepting the award on Luke’s behalf on Friday night, Donald Chen, from Kah Lawyers, who has spent time at Salvos Legal, described Luke as a “deeply driven, passionate man”.
“He was deeply concerned about the welfare of the community and ... without his leadership [Salvos Legal] wouldn’t be the success that it is”
With Luke at the helm, the practice of Salvos Legal has grown to six partners, three associates, one employed solicitor and a licensed conveyancer, as well as support staff.
Luke could unfortunately not attend the Awards so Donald Chen from Kah Lawyers accepted the Pro Bono Award on his behalf from Burgess Paluch director Paul Burgess