Bruce Davis, founder, face of 1-800-LAWYERS

Bruce Davis in one of his commercials for 1-800-LAWYERS.

BY GABE HERMAN | Bruce Davis, the founder of the 1-800-LAWYERS line for locals to get legal help, and the face of its commercials for years, who was also a longtime Village resident, died recently in his Village home, on W. 10th St., at age 71.

The path for Davis to strike it rich with 1-800-LAWYERS began in the late 1970s when he had just graduated from law school and a Harvard grad friend of his brother’s had secured 212-HARVARD. It occurred to Davis to acquire 212-LAWYERS. The number turned out to be for a pay phone at JFK Airport, but he was able to get it from the phone company.

Davis, a personal injury lawyer, then began his late-night ads in search of clients.

“I made that my business phone right away,” he told the East Hampton Star in 2004. “From that moment I haven’t had a bad week in 25 years.”

Eventually, Davis got the bigger idea to get the 1-800-LAWYERS number, which was more challenging because it was owned by a South Dakota phone company that asked for excessive fees. Davis sued and got the number.

Davis would eventually give up practicing law and focus on leasing 1-800-LAWYERS to local law firms nationwide. A 2012 blog post by Bruce Davis Enterprises Inc., noted that, “The individual firms then use the number to bring in injured parties to help win their case… . Each firm that 1-800-LAWYERS is leased to is limited to the agreed area where the calls are redirected from. This is to keep other firms from taking cases away from each other.”

While in South Dakota, Davis met his future wife, Pamala. They married in 1993 and had three children together. In recent years they were involved in ongoing divorce proceedings, which included Pamala charging last year that she had been tricked into a bad postnuptial agreement, according to the Daily News. That issue was settled and the divorce has been waiting for a judge’s final approval, a lawyer for Pamala told the Daily News.

Davis was close with his younger brother, Jonathan, and mother, Yvette, and all three lived near each other in Greenwich Village for many years, according to neighbor LindaAnn LoSchiavo.

“They were always very family-oriented,” she said. “They saw each other a lot.”

According to LoSchiavo, Bruce’s mother lived in Brooklyn and visited her sons often before Bruce moved her to the Village. The sons would arrange for a friend to drive her back to Brooklyn, and LoSchiavo fondly remembered talking with Yvette while she waited in the lobby for her ride.

“A lovely, affectionate, supportive mother,” LoSchiavo said.

LoSchiavo recalled Davis and his family being very fond of animals of all kinds.

“Bruce really loved and doted on animals,” she said. “At various times, Bruce owned a toy poodle, an English Mastiff, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, a pot-bellied pig and cats.”

Davis often hosted nightly gatherings with friends at local favorite spots in the Village, according to LoSchiavo, who said that for a time it was at Marylou’s, a now-closed Italian restaurant on W. Ninth St. that often hosted celebrities and was a former speakeasy. After the closing of Marylou’s, the regular spot became French Roast, a 24-hour French restaurant on Sixth Ave. and W. 11 St., also since closed.

Bruce Davis moved his mother nearby in the Village after making his fortune from 1-800-LAWYERS, said LoSchiavo.

“Not many sons strike it rich and immediately relocate their mother to fancy digs across the street,” she said. “I think it says a lot about him.”

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