Prison prompts pro bono plan

A FORMER solicitor who was jailed in 1992 for mortgage fraud is leading a drive to set up a new pro bono service after his time in prison convinced him of the need for more free legal advice.

Michael Davis is one of 12 volunteers attempting to set up the new group, to be called Opportunities for Justice.

Up until September he had been a salaried administrator at Access to Justice Ltd, the London-based pro bono company which was wound up by the Department of Trade and Industry in that month.

Davis, who joined Access to Justice when it opened in May 1995, said Opportunities for Justice was looking for funding to take on the hundreds of cases which Access to Justice had been handling.

Access to Justice aimed to develop a large building in Holborn as a business centre and then use the profits to fund the group's pro bono work.

Davis said that the legal advice service was operated at arm's length from the commercial venture and was largely unaware of its troubles.

He said that his time in prison convinced him that there was a need for a specific pro bono service.

He stressed he would not be a director or trustee of Opportunities for Justice, adding that he had never hidden his past from potential donors.