Salvos Legal wins prestigious law award
Salvos Legal wins prestigious law award
30 May 2019
Salvos Legal, The Salvation Army’s social enterprise law firm, was awarded Corporate Citizen Law Firm of the Year at the Australasian Law Awards in Sydney last week.
The Australasian Law Awards is the pinnacle awards program for the nation’s legal profession.
“Salvos Legal was judged to be Australia’s best Corporate Citizen Law Firm, which, especially in the face of strong competition from a number of Australia’s largest and most respected law firms, is a reflection of the immense effort expended and the results achieved through Salvos Legal Humanitarian (SLH),” said Salvos Legal Partner Mary Anne Ireland.
All profits from Salvos Legal are used to fund Salvos Legal Humanitarian, which provides free legal services to people in need and who do not qualify for government aided legal assistance.
Salvos Legal met the judging criteria for this award, which was “Quantity, quality, impact and innovativeness of its sustainability, community, diversity and inclusion and corporate social responsibility initiatives during the 2018 calendar year.”
“For Salvos Legal to win, we must have been superior in a quantitative and qualitative way from the other finalists,” Ms Ireland explained.
“Our clarity of purpose – with the fee-based services of Salvos Legal funding SLH – is a model exemplifying the rising power of consumer activism, as demonstrated by the introduction of the Benefit Company legislation, which advances responsible business with social impact objectives.”
Ms Ireland and Amelia Weidner, Senior Associate at Salvos Legal Humanitarian, outlined just what made SLH extraordinary in 2018. This included:
- providing approximately 43,000 hours of pro bono services
- handling approximately 3000 humanitarian cases representing people in dire situations resulting from abuse, addiction, criminal acts, financial difficulties, homelessness, mental health issues, violence, residency and visa issues
- responding to 450 calls to our free telephone advice line for people in rural and regional locations
- managing and training a fluctuating volunteer workforce of 180 people and employing 50 people of diverse backgrounds and religions who all share a common goal of being a force for good
Ms Ireland said the award raised the profile of Salvos Legal and its purpose among the large organisations who retained law firms on a regular basis, such as governments, listed entities and, of course, The Salvation Army itself.
“These clients know that the legal fees they pay Salvos Legal are directed towards achieving quantifiable social impacts,” she said. “Winning this award affirms to those clients who retain Salvos Legal that the firm is upholding all it stands for, and it sends a message to ‘corporate Australia’ that they should consider retaining Salvos Legal for the same reasons.
“We are a small firm compared to the giants who were nominated for this award, and it's incredibly humbling to get this recognition. The work we do through our SLH arm is only possible because of the clients who retain Salvos Legal for their fee-paying work. We appreciate every single client who does us the honour of retaining us.”
Ms Ireland also shared that this award validated the choice the firm’s employees made to contribute to something bigger than themselves in this life-changing work.
“The people we help are those William Booth [Salvation Army co-founder] had in mind all those years ago, and who would otherwise not get any assistance and would just fall through the cracks,” Ms Ireland said.
“As well as helping them legally, our holistic service also connects them back into The Salvation Army’s network of services.
“They may present with one issue, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and we can connect them for help with, for example, crisis housing, addiction treatment, and the programs offered at corps and centres.
“One corps officer, where Salvos Legal runs a fortnightly advice bureau, recently told me that our work there has been the best source of recruitment for the corps in a long time. The services we offer our clients are definitely consistent with the mission of The Salvation Army.”
As well as its offices in Sydney, Newcastle and Goodna (25km south-east of Brisbane), Salvos Legal also offers four fortnightly drop-in advice bureaus at corps throughout Sydney, as well as the telephone advice line, which is accessed mainly by rural and regional clients.
To read more about Salvos Legal, Salvos Legal Humanitarian and the people impacted by their work, click here.