Looking back, you can see a lot over 127 years.
And the early days of Michelmores were modest by anybody's standards.
We were founded in 1887 by an entrepreneurial and energetic young lawyer, Henry W Michelmore. Character traits that we hope have endured and permeate our Firm to this day.
Our first home was a small but bustling office overlooking the beautiful cathedral, in the heart of Exeter.
This was the year of national celebration, the year of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. And as Henry gazed out upon the scene, who knows what his hopes, dreams and ambitions for the Firm would be? Henry was determined to make a success of the business that bore his name, and he applied himself with determination and dedication to build something from nothing.
In 1920, on their return from the Great War, Henry W Michelmore's two sons, Godwin and Henry joined the Firm. They helped to grow the Firm and its burgeoning reputation with a vigour and vision inherited from their father. A period of progressive growth for the Firm ensued, interrupted, as family firms the world over were, in 1939, by the devastating outbreak of World War II. This saw Godwin return to battle, in his mid-forties, as a Brigadier. Progressing to serve as ADC to King George VI in 1942. A man made of stern stuff. In WWI he was wounded at Passchendaele, and by the end of the mis-named 'War to end all Wars', received the MC, and was twice mentioned in dispatches.
He re-joined the practice in 1945. And was soon followed in to the Firm by his own son, Jim.
Post-war saw more growth and success for the Firm, and in 1955, our first serious lateral recruit came on board: Peter Chalk, formerly of Freshfields.
Throughout the Fifties and Swinging Sixties, as hemlines shortened, our list of service offerings lengthened. This period also coincided with the recruitment of a young, fresh-faced Articled Clerk: the irrepressible Andrew Maynard. Andrew became Senior Partner, and is today our well-known, widely respected Client Services Director. He is also the trusted advisor to many South West clients for whom he has acted for many years.
In the late 1980s, the family lineage continued and was underscored when founder Henry W's great grandson, Will Michelmore, joined the Firm. Coming up through the ranks, and earning his place on his skills and intellect rather than family surname, he has made a significant contribution to the modern day success of the firm, and is now Senior Partner.
By the early 2000s, the Firm was really picking up velocity, business, and a widely-held reputation for excellence. We appointed our first Practice Director, Andrew Lovell, an ex-banker with nearly 30 years' experience of how to grow businesses, who was given the brief to grow the business significantly.
Andrew, together with our Managing Partner, Malcolm Dickinson, project managed the hugely successful and much needed move to our purpose-built state of the art 50,000 square foot premises in a business park on the outskirts of Exeter. In the same year, 2005, we opened a London office, and just a few years later, we advised on the sale of the most expensive piece of real estate sold at that time - Chelsea Barracks - for £959m.
As we grew exponentially, we won clients and awards in equal measure. We also started to develop our global ambitions, services and reach, though never losing site of our responsibility and commitment to our clients closer to home in the South West.
More recently, we expanded our London office considerably, and in 2012, opened a highly-regarded office in Bristol. And we are now on target for a £30m turnover this year, with an unfolding strategy and investment commitment for national and international growth.
The history of Michelmores is very much of the 'small acorns, mighty oaks' category. And we wonder what Henry W would have made of, or indeed dreamed of, as he gazed out of his small Victorian 'start-up' all those years ago.
Our office today may have only moved less than 4 miles away from the centre of Exeter, but we've travelled a lot further than that.
We think Henry W would approve.