Adcocks Solicitors has seen many changes in law in the years that have followed Leonard Hedley Adcock setting up the business, about a month after qualifying, in West Bromwich in 1910.
And now the firm, which is today run by his proud grandson Mark Adcock, is celebrating its 110th anniversary.
“From the very start until the present day, Adcocks has always been a family business,” says the 66-year-old grandfather of three.
“I have counted no less than 14 members of the family, both direct descendants of Leonard, or their family, who have worked in the practice, including myself since 1974, and both my son and daughter.
“And I hope it will continue like that for another 110 years,” he added.
Leonard’s parents, Hedley John Adcock and Mary Christiana, who originally hailed from Norfolk, moved to the Midlands when it is believed that Hedley took on the role of solicitor’s clerk for a West Bromwich legal firm.
Hedley and Mary would later go on to become the last incumbents of Master and Matron at the 1857 West Bromwich Workhouse – which then became Hallam Hospital, now Sandwell District Hospital - until their retirement.
In April 1910 Leonard was admitted as a solicitor, and “articled” to Birmingham solicitor, Stephen Gateley, whose firm still operates under the same name today, although as a much larger practice.
It was then on May 26, 1910, that Leonard agreed to purchase the West Bromwich branch of then Birmingham firm Duggan and Elton, for the princely sum of £59 and 10 shillings.
During the Second World War, Leonard and his son Hedley as a teenager both served in the Home Guard, aka Dad’s Army, charged with guarding the boundary of West Bromwich and Birmingham, close to the Albion Football Ground.
“At the time the family home was Bleak House, where I was born, and which still stands, in Island Road,” says Mark.
“Owned at one time by one of the Albion’s top players, it was just over West Bromwich’s town border at Handsworth.
“My dad and granddad were tasked with walking up and down Forge Lane, near the family home, which was a country lane, surrounding the Dartmouth Estate, now Sandwell Park, because it was thought the spot would be an ideal landing place for German aircraft,” he adds. Despite enduring two world wars, the company survived and thrived, and has remained in the hands of Leonard’s descendants ever since.
Sadly, in 1952, Leonard suffered a fatal heart attack and was found collapsed at his desk
In his obituary, he was described as a “great citizen” of West Bromwich, who prioritised “integrity and humaneness”, was “greatly loved by all” and was “of outstanding help to all who were in need”.
A tribute from The Rev John B Hardy was included in the report and said: “I found him a great friend, and he helped me more than language is adequate to express.
“He was honest in life, and in his judgement of others was both kindly and helpful. This town has lost a great citizen, whose memory will live on.”
After passing to Leonard’s son Hedley and, since his father’s retirement, in 1987, after 50 years as a practicing solicitor, it has been Mark at the helm of the award-winning family firm.
Adcocks has recently been shortlisted - as one of only four practices in the West Midlands - for the accolade of Best Law Firm of the Year 2020 by Birmingham Law Society, with the winners due to be announced later this year.
Currently, the practice employs about 20 staff led by Mark,who is a former President of both Lichfield and South Staffordshire’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as Vice President of the former Sandwell and Dudley Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The team includes his son, Hedley, daughter, Frances Adcock-Di-Pierri, and their respective partners.
During its history Adcocks Solicitors was also known as Adcock and Williams – after John James Williams, the husband of Hedley’s sister Mary, joined the business.
In subsequent years the partners broke up the practice, but it was reunited again in 1996 through the Merger of Adcocks with Bramwell Williams & Co of West Bromwich and has continued to flourish.
In 1997, the practice also acquired the very old established business of Stockdale & Brown of Tipton and then in 1999 it acquired the practice of David Edwards & Co of Lichfield, where it now holds its headquarters.
As well as the partners and children of family members joining the business fold over the years, Mark estimates that at least 60 qualified solicitors have worked for Adcocks during its history and it has employed about 750 people.
“I’m incredibly proud of what our family has built. And to have been in business for 110 years is a rare accolade and something that we are very honoured and humbled by.
“Even though our clients come from across the region, to spanning the UK and overseas, I’m proud to have remained true to our West Midland roots by continuing to both invest in the region in both property and jobs.
“This is something we want to continue to do for many years, and hopefully for decades to come,” he says.