Award-winning Essex-based law firm Palmers Solicitors is celebrating its 30th year in business.
Palmers was founded in 1983 by Chris Mowat, John Morgan and Mike Hunter, who had all been partners in a firm called Steggles Palmer, and Luke Morgan, an assistant solicitor at Steggles Palmer who became a partner in Palmers. Although John and Mike have since retired, Chris remains a partner while Luke is now a consultant with the firm.
The four decided to name the firm Palmers after Keith Palmer, a partner at Steggles Palmer in the early 1970s, who gave his permission for the use of the moniker. The name was chosen because it was felt that using a familiar name would give the new firm a greater advantage.
Reflecting on the firm’s formative years, Chris said: “We were very much a traditional high street practice but we were determined that, going forward, we would provide a broad spectrum of services to both private and commercial clients. We decided that rather than becoming a niche practice, we would departmentalise our lawyers and have specialists who would concentrate on one or two areas of law, rather than being general practitioners.
“This is how we have evolved and, over time, we have become more structured and expect our fee earners to increase their expertise in their respective fields, so we recruit on that basis.”
The firm originally had offices in Basildon, Benfleet and South Woodham Ferrers, with the Benfleet office closing in 1995 when it was decided that a better quality service could be provided by focusing on developing the Basildon office. Today, the firm has offices in Basildon, South Woodham Ferrers and Thurrock, which opened seven years ago. The firm also has 85 staff, compared to 30 when it first started.
Chris has seen the legal profession change dramatically in the 30 years since Palmers first opened its doors. In addition to the increasing amount of regulation, he believes the need for law firms to specialise has never been more important.
He said: “Small general practice firms are struggling, particularly since the recession hit. We have had to be smarter in the way we deliver our services to clients, because the client is still number one and you have got to stand out above the competition.
“The development of IT has also played a major part in the way we work now. When we started Palmers, word processors were only just coming on to the market, but now everything is computerised.”
Looking back on the last three decades, Chris feels a sense of pride. He said: “I am extremely proud of what we have achieved, which has been through a lot of hard work, not just by the partners but by members of staff too, some of whom have been here since the start.
“We didn’t want to conquer the world; we wanted to grow organically, training the people that we employed and recruiting from the outside too. I think it speaks volumes about our training programme that current partners such as BJ Chong, Carey Jacobs, and Lee McClellan all trained with us.
“Looking back, I don’t know where the time has gone, but we still have clients from when we started and from the previous practice, so we must be doing something right.”
The 30th anniversary was marked with a celebration for staff at the Ivory Rooms in Billericay.
Palmers won the Business 2 Business (Large Firm) category at this year’s Basildon Business Awards.