For many, Luke Zacharias was living the dream life: A lawyer working for a prestigious Vancouver law firm, living in the West End not far from Kitsilano Beach.
However, for the 38-year-old Chilliwack native, when it came time to start a family, he turned his attention back home.
Zacharias grew up on a three-acre property in Promontory, so the prospect of raising kids in a high-rise condo in downtown Vancouver didn’t appeal to him.
Zacharias left the law firm he articled for after graduating from UBC to join Baker Newby in Chilliwack. He was made a partner less than two years later.
He says moving back was the best decision he ever made.
“I feel so fortunate,” he says. “I really love my job.”
Zacharias didn’t set out to be a lawyer. He graduated from the University College of the Fraser Valley with a bachelor of arts degree back in 1999. He studied history, and at one time thought about a career in teaching.
But when he was encouraged to consider law, and wrote the arduous entrance exams, he found the profession fit neatly with one of his passions: helping people.
Zacharias specializes in civil and commercial litigation. He enjoys guiding clients through the complexities of the legal system, and representing them in court if necessary.
“Law is all about helping people,” he says, “and that’s very fulfilling.”
But Zacharias doesn’t confine his legal skills to the courtroom. It is knowledge that can offer assistance elsewhere in the community, like in his role as vice-president of the Chilliwack Community Services.
The organization, which employs more than 100 people and draws on a $6 million budget, plays a critical role in addressing a whole range of needs in Chilliwack.
Zacharias is also a member of the Mount Cheam Rotary Club and serves on the club’s “Chilliwack Children’s Foundation.”
“I have a passion for helping people – people in need,” he explains. The Children’s Foundation helps direct funds to children in the community who need it most. It helps send local kids to leadership camps, covers medical and dental expenses, provides funding for sports programs, plus a host of other initiatives.
Being involved with these groups, says Zacharias, helps him fulfill his goal of giving back to his community. “It’s consistent with what I want to be as a person.”
In his spare time Zacharias can often be found at the gym. He was introduced to weight lifting while a student at UBC and keeps it up today. “I really enjoy it,” he says. “It’s a great stress release.”