Salvos Legal, a unique self-sustaining humanitarian law firm, celebrated its official launch last night (27 July) by announcing the establishment of two new offices.
The event, held at NSW Parliament House, was hosted by the Hon. Greg Smith SC MP, the NSW Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
Salvos Legal's founder and managing partner, Luke Geary, said he hoped the work the firm is doing - and the model by which it is doing it - would spark a whole new generation of law firms.
"I hope [this] will mark the commencement of a brand new "sector" in the provision of legal services," he said. "Not strictly private, government or community, but rather a co-operative sector involving clients from all of those areas."
Salvos Legal operates under a model which has a transactional legal arm and a humanitarian legal arm. The profits derived from the firm's transactional services fund the salaries of the lawyers who carry out the humanitarian work.
The idea behind Salvos Legal is based on the philosophies of Salvation Army founder William Booth, who in 1890 penned The Poor Man's Lawyer, which advocates the model that Geary has implemented.
While the firm already has offices up and running in Surry Hills, Parramatta, Auburn, Campsie and Miranda, Commissioner James Condon, the territorial commander of The Salvation Army, last night announced a new partnership with Canterbury City Council and the appointment of a new partner, Anne-Marie Paterson, to a new Salvos Legal Humanitarian arm in Lakemba.
The Council will be running a 12-month pilot program for the legal advice and referral service in Lakemba, commencing on 16 August 2011. The program will be called "Salvos Legal Humanitarian - proudly sponsored by Canterbury City Council" and will involve Salvos Legal Humanitarian providing one partner and two volunteer College of Law Practical Legal Training placements or solicitors each Tuesday from 9am to 5pm.
Condon said is it hoped Salvos Legal will also become a commercial legal services provider to the Council, and that the profit from the fees generated by that work will eventually completely fund the ongoing operation of the new humanitarian office in Lakemba.
"We look forward to this brilliant and exciting relationship," he said.
Condon also announced the establishment of a new Salvos Legal Humanitarian full-time headquarters office in Goodna, Queensland, along with many other critical social services - such as employment and job training, welfare and emergency assistance, financial management and counseling - all under the same roof.
The model will mirror that of the Surry Hills office, with the addition of either two or four part-time night services, or advice bureaus, which will be run on a fortnightly or monthly basis, to be decided on a needs basis.
Condon said the focus of the humanitarian work will be on helping people understand and enforce their rights with respect to insurance claims for damage caused by the floods, as well as other flood or disaster-related legal issues.
"The opportunity to drive our humanitarian work north to flood affected areas in Queensland is an incredible responsibility which we do not take lightly," said Geary.
"There are a lot of hurt people there who need specialist legal assistance but cannot afford to access it. We hope to close the gap in that area and, at the same time, give people the opportunity to address their other, non-legal needs through the provision of the 'hub' model with other Salvation Army social services all running collaboratively out of the same premises. This is exciting!"
The balance of the practice will focus on criminal, family, children's, debt, housing, Centrelink, migration and refugee law.