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Salvos Legal founder steps down but will remain a 'strong presence' at law firm

Salvos Legal founder steps down but will remain a 'strong presence' at law firm

Salvos Legal founder steps down but will remain a 'strong presence' at law firm

7 September 2017

Salvos Legal founder and Managing Partner, Luke Geary, announced on Monday that he would step down from leading the firm.

By Lauren Martin

Outgoing Salvos Legal Managing Partner, Luke Geary, says family reasons have prompted his move to Queensland after 15 years of running The Salvation Army’s unique law firm.

Salvos Legal made the surprise announcement on Monday that its founder and managing partner was moving on, right as the firm celebrated a major milestone of some 20,000 free humanitarian cases for clients in need who otherwise would not have been able to access a lawyer but for the firm’s self-funding social enterprise model.

The firm also was awarded 2017 Boutique Law Firm of the Year at the Australian Law Awards on Friday evening. 

“We’re forging new ground by this being now a very mature organisation that I have every confidence will continue to do great things with me stepping back a bit,” he said.

Ross Lamb, who was six months ago appointed Chief Financial Officer of The Salvation Army and has extensive experience in law-firm management, will assume the new Salvos Legal position of Chief Executive Officer.

“Ross brings 15 years of experience with law firms and, having worked within The Salvation Army as CFO for the last six months, brings an understanding and awareness of Salvation Army culture and missional context. It is perfect for what the business needs at this next stage of its growth.”

Luke Geary, a Salvationist from Auburn, founded Courtyard Legal – the precursor to Salvos Legal – in 2008, inspired by Salvation Army founder William Booth’s original plan for a “poor man’s law service”, which he outlined in his 1890 book In Darkest England and the Way Out.

He ran Courtyard Legal in a voluntary capacity for seven years before establishing Salvos Legal, a revolutionary law firm where profits from paying, commercial clients are funnelled into providing legal services to people who can’t afford lawyers, yet don’t qualify for legal aid.

He says he never had any plans to leave the firm, yet family reasons have led to a decision to move to Brisbane. He will relocate with his wife, Heather, son Jacob and daughter Cecelia in November. However, despite taking up his former position as partner at Mills Oakley Lawyers, Luke will remain a strong presence at Salvos Legal in a mentoring, consultancy and pro-bono capacity. He will also act as a voluntary director on the company boards for Salvos Legal and Salvos Legal Humanitarian.

“I’ll still be working with the team in Sydney once a fortnight and remotely on a lot of matters. The big ‘bombshell’ of ‘Luke’s Leaving’ is not really the reality ... I’ll still be engaged with the firm but just in a different capacity.”

He says he feels proud of the way the firm has developed over the past 15 years and, despite getting much of the accolades for its success, Salvos Legal has been the fruit of the passion and labour of all of its partners, staff and volunteers.

“Something that you start is contained within your mind. What I’m really proud of is that this is now contained within the minds and the hearts of hundreds of people. Hundreds of amazing, talented, legal and non-legal employees and volunteers who will continue to add their own contributions to the creation and continuance of an organisation that has helped families in circumstances where they would have had no help.
“I’m really just one piece of a much larger body of people who make such enormous contributions. It gives me incredible confidence that if I step back and allow it to continue it will have a wonderful future.”


  1. Hearty congratulations to Luke for creating and steering a quite wonderful and innovative venture for our army. Salvos Legal is highly esteemed, even envied, across our salvo world. I wish him and and his family every blessing for the future, and believe Salvos Legal will mature forward from strength to strength.

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