IT IS somewhat fitting that the converted cells of Govan’s old Orkney Street Police Station are now home to Govan Law Centre, given that the man who runs it - principal solicitor Mike Dailly - takes no prisoners when it comes to fighting for justice.

When you consider the type of work he and his colleagues do - defending mortgage repossessions, fighting eviction cases, advising on money matters and welfare rights - you can understand why. With little or no voice of their own, Mr Dailly’s clients depend on him to fight their corner for them.

“Our work is about enforcing people’s rights and enabling them to access those rights and access justice,” Mr Dailly said.

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“We’ve got involved in stopping people being made bankrupt, which is an issue if you’re a homeowner because you could lose your home.

“We do disputes for asylum seekers to do with housing conditions. Often two families are put in one house that doesn’t meet standards and is dangerous for children - there are all sorts of issues with people being really badly treated.

“Another big area is non-residential care orders. Under self-directed support [which gives individuals control of their own care budgets] often assessments have resulted in people getting half the service they are used to.

“If you’re in your 70s and you’ve had 24/7 care for the last 25 years and suddenly the local authority say they’re going to take some of your hours but you can press a button and speak to someone on the phone that’s terrifying.

“It’s good for some people and it is innovative but for those in their twilight years it’s not fair. We’ve got a case in the Court of Session challenging that.”

That Mr Dailly has chosen to champion the underdog throughout his career is perhaps unsurprising given his own inauspicious start in the legal world.

Although he had volunteered at Castlemilk Law Centre while studying for a law degree at Strathclyde University, when it came to launching his career proper Mr Dailly was almost stymied by the fact that training contracts in the early nineties were an even scarcer commodity than they are in today’s austere climate.

Yet when he eventually did manage to secure an unpaid, part-time traineeship with a high street firm in Fife, moving back into his mum’s Dundee flat and turning to freelance journalism and policy work “in order to survive”, his career was almost over as quickly as it had begun.

“At that time, which was about 1993 or so, the Law Society of Scotland said I couldn’t do the traineeship because it had a regressive policy that it had to be a full-time traineeship,” Mr Dailly recalled.

“I appealed - I said they were allowing people to do traineeships that are unpaid because their parents can afford to support them, but that’s discriminatory. If you’ve got a single parent what do you do? If you’ve got no money what do you do?

“They reversed their decision.”

That his argument had a political hue is no coincidence considering that Mr Dailly, who after a lifetime in the Labour Party “came out” as an SNP supporter earlier this year, had dabbled in politics prior to turning to the law. It is his belief that “the law is the crystallisation of politics” that continues to drive him today.

“When Thatcher got in we saw the decline of working class communities across Scotland - and England, Wales and Northern Ireland - I witnessed that as a child,” Mr Dailly said.

“I saw neighbours and parents lose their jobs, which was the start of long-term unemployment. I saw communities that were strong, robust and principled start to crumble and implode and that’s when I realised that the answer is political so I did a politics degree.

“When I did that I realised that if everything is about how people get power and influence you come back to the law. If you think laws are unfair it’s because they are the manifestation of political will, but the law can be used for people who need to get access to justice.”

Now, as a solicitor advocate since 2015, Mr Dailly can argue cases in the Court of Session, something he enjoys not just for the intellectual challenge but because “it’s like pure law - there’s something almost beautiful about it”.

“The law isn’t something that’s dead - it’s alive,” he said. “Even something like the Leases Act 1449, which is an amazing piece of legislation from the original Scottish parliament.

“At that time farmers would grow crops then the landowner would sell the land to another landowner who was their friend. The way the law was then the person who bought the land would inherit the crop - it was one of the first consumer scams.

“The Act said that if they bought the land they bought it with the tenancy intact. The law was there to deliver a policy.”

As a scholar of the law, and one who relishes arguing about statutory interpretation when in court, Mr Dailly has also turned his hand to drafting legislation, penning both the Breastfeeding Scotland Act and the Property Factors Scotland Act.

Despite such input at the macro level, though, it is the impact he can make on the streets of Govan and beyond that appears to give Mr Dailly the most satisfaction, perhaps because the daily sight of those little cells on Orkney Street serve as a reminder of how easy it is for some to end up on the wrong side of the law.

Which explains why, despite a constant battle to keep the law centre itself funded, Mr Dailly will gladly divert cash to help local causes such as Tea in the Pot, a support group for women seeking refuge from domestic violence.

“They were going to shut down at the end of July because they didn’t have money to pay their rent,” he said. “We’re working with them on a funding application but have given them £3,000 and I gave them £1,000 from my own pocket to pay their rent until the end of October.

“It would be a travesty if something like that closes.”