A Birmingham-based lawyer is retiring from practice after a half-century in which time he helped secure compensation for hundreds of West Midlands families affected by asbestos diseases.

Dave Fisher, 68, will step down as senior supervisor for asbestos claims at social justice law firm Thompsons Solicitors, following 50 years of fighting for those suffering from industrial diseases such as mesothelioma.

Mr Fisher started his career in 1971 at union law firm F A Greenwood & Co. Within a year – and aged just 19 – he was involved in the very first legal case for welders’ lung, a disease caused by exposure to welding fumes. Despite a High Court loss, the case was successful in the Court of Appeal and paved the way for similar industrial disease claims in the future.

He joined Thompsons Solicitors in 1977 before moving to Rowley Ashworth in 1980, continuing to support families devastated by industrial illness.

Dave Fisher, who is retiring from Thompsons Solicitors
Dave Fisher, who is retiring from Thompsons Solicitors

He later rejoined Thompsons Solicitors in 2009 when it merged with Rowley Ashworth.

In his career, he has not only run cases for families affected by asbestos-related disease but helped signpost them to Derbyshire Asbestos Support Group (DAST) and Asbestos Support Central England (ASCE), which continue to provide crucial guidance for those managing an asbestos illness and their families today.

“So much has changed since I first stepped foot in a Thompsons office in 1977 – but the ethos of standing up for the vulnerable remains as strong now as it ever was,” he said. “I’ve had the pleasure to work closely with a plethora of extremely talented and dedicated professionals to ensure Thompsons is the go-to law firm for anyone who requires asbestos-related legal help.

“It has also been a privilege to have acted for hundreds of mesothelioma victims and their families over the years, and as long as asbestos continues to be a presence in the UK, I know that Thompsons Solicitors will continue to provide their vital first-class personal support to anyone affected.”

Stepping into Dave’s considerable shoes will be Birmingham-based Thompsons lawyer Alan Dolphin, 52, who comes to the senior role with 34 years of personal injury litigation experience. He will be supervising colleagues across the West Midlands to ensure asbestos victims receive the best support and compensation possible.

He said: “While I know Dave in many ways, it’s an honour to continue his excellent work in the region.

Alan Dolphin, asbestos senior supervisor at Thompsons
Alan Dolphin, asbestos senior supervisor at Thompsons

“Although the threat from asbestos is as real now as when Dave started 50 years ago, Dave and I have been seeing the places where people are exposed to asbestos change dramatically from traditional heavy industries to places like offices, hospitals and schools. It means, to be frank, that non specialist lawyers ‘dabbling’ in asbestos cases needs to be a thing of the past. I know that the team here at Thompsons in the Midlands are working harder than ever to ensure that we continue to tie the exposures to those nontraditional workplaces.”

Statistics show that asbestos deaths remain stubbornly high and after multiple revisions to the supposed ‘peak’ of deaths – now estimated to be 2025 – asbestos is going to remain a prominent cause of work-related illness for the foreseeable future.

Mr Dolphin continued: “Worse yet, the people affected seem to be getting younger and exposed for less time. We are seeing more cases of men and women who were briefly exposed to asbestos in, for example, a hospital, where asbestos hadn’t been removed and wasn’t safely contained. Just one brief encounter with asbestos can be enough to cause illness.

“Despite these worrying trends we are optimistic for the future of asbestos support and treatment. With the development of more complex medical interventions, such as immunotherapy, we are seeing those with asbestos illnesses living longer and with a far greater quality of life. The support groups are tireless in their help.

“Nothing makes up for the fact that those we act for shouldn’t have been exposed in the first place – but ensuring our clients and their families receive the best care possible and the maximum compensation drives us on.”