Irwin Mitchell’s Napier gets CBE for championing pro bono

Irwin Mitchell senior partner Michael Napier has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List for his work promoting pro bono.

Napier becomes a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), “for services to the Law and to Pro Bono Legal Work”.

Last year Napier, who is the Attorney General’s Pro Bono Envoy, spearheaded National Pro Bono Week from the decks of a double-decker bus which toured the country in June. However he has also been heavily involved in a number of public service groups and initiatives during his time as a lawyer, serving on the Mental Health Act Commission and the Civil Justice Council as well as being president of the Law Society.

In addition, many of Napier’s cases have been significant from a legal standpoint. In 1981 he was the first solicitor-advocate to appear before the European Court of Human Rights, winning a case which secured legal aid for detained mental patients.

Napier said: “As we start 2005, I feel very confident that this extra profile will help me promote pro bono and encourage others to get involved, and assist those who are already involved.”

Other lawyers honoured in the list were last year’s Lord Mayor of the City of London, Linklaters partner Robert Finch, and former Hammonds partner Digby Jones who is now the Director General of the CBI. Both were knighted, for services to the City and to business respectively.

The Home Office legal adviser David Seymour was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath. Meanwhile former Eversheds chairman Keith James becomes an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), “for services to Business and the community in Wales”.