Exploring The Oldest Law Firm in Existence- Thomson, Snell & Passmore

This 454 – year old law firm will blow your mind!

Thomson Snell & Passmore is a law firm based in the United Kingdom. It was launched in 1570 by Nicholas Hooper of the Tonbridge Church. He stated his profession as ‘scrivener and procurator curiae’ –  who performs tasks of drafting wills and bonds.

However, John inherited the business after his father – Hooper’s death in 1618. He was therefore the first to hand it on and thus began a line of acquisitions which saw it being under the same ownership it is today. The company however adopted its current name in 1968.

In 2017, it set a Guinness World Record as the oldest continuously operating law firm. Simon Slater, chief executive of Thomson Snell & Passmore, remarked, “It is fantastic to be named an official Guinness World Record holder. This is an acknowledgement of the firm’s unique longevity and a testament to our resilience as a law firm. This recognition underpins our promise to our clients that we will always be here to provide legal support.”

For more than four centuries, the firm has focused on wills, trusts, and estates, as well as property and commercial law. However, during the previous few decades, the firm has expanded its practice areas to become a full-service firm, increasing its clientele in the process.

Does a firm’s age really matter?

Since the late 16th century, there has been a definite line of development — partners handing along traditions, culture, and experience from one generation to the next.

Thomson Snell & Passmore is now a highly regarded and one of the largest law companies in the South East of London, with over 250+ employees.  The firm is highly ranked in all practice areas by websites, and 25 lawyers are listed as leaders in their fields by Chambers UK.  They have accomplished this by consistently aligning with their clients ever-changing demands and ensuring that they deliver informed and practical advice on law to both corporate and individual clients.

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Thomson Snell & Passmore’s growth is fueled by smart recruitment and a team-oriented strategy, and the firm has received industry recognition through honors such as Private Client Practitioner magazine’s ‘Top 25 Law Firms’ and inclusion on the Citywealth Leaders List.
Their expertise is frequently sought by media outlets, including the Financial Times. The firm specializes in industries critical to the region’s economy, such as education and food and beverage, and provides full legal services to businesses and individuals. 

Notably, 25 of their practice areas are ranked by renowned legal guides, including experts in many fields.

Thus, while history shapes the business, it does not constrain it; rather, the firm is committed to adapting and prioritizing client-centricity, exemplifying a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity.

Their corporate and commercial staff manages transactions for companies of all sizes, providing viable options that guarantee long-term success. They’re also building a solid practice in property finance. Their dispute resolution team reduces risk and effectively settles disputes, while their employment lawyers provide tribunal knowledge and work to prevent claims.

Thomson Snell & Passmore provides estate planning, tax planning etc for individual clients. They have one of the biggest Court of Protection practices in the nation and are well-known for their proficiency in financial and real estate matters. Complex situations including cerebral palsy and catastrophic injuries are the area of expertise for the clinical negligence and personal injury team.

The firm offers mediation, financial agreements, child welfare, and prenuptial agreements proficiency in matters involving families. They establish enduring relationships with their clients by customizing services to meet their needs. They cater to a wide range of clients, including charities, corporations, and individuals.

Looking Ahead

They prioritize equity, diversity, and professional development in their recruitment approach, which fosters organic growth. Their dedication to developing talent at all levels, from trainees to experienced lawyers, is reflected in their awards for training and recruitment, which also guarantee a warm and supportive work environment.

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To lead the company as it prepared to mark its historic 450th year in business in 2020, Sarah Henwood was hired as the First Woman CEO. As she took on the position of CEO of the world’s longest-operating law firm, she stated, “I look forward to embracing the new challenges ahead.”

Thomson Snell & Passmore’s 450th anniversary campaign produced remarkable results despite the difficulties caused by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. These included a 380% increase in website traffic, an 18% increase in LinkedIn engagement, and significant press coverage across Kent and legal media, reaching about four million people. 

The company’s long legacy offers a unique opportunity and challenge in shaping its identity for the 21st century. Although 450 years of history undoubtedly has weight, the firm takes a contemporary and progressive stance. 

Thomson Snell & Passmore Head of Marketing and Business Development, Charlotte Eberlein, highlights “the company’s dedication to adaptability, which is demonstrated by its recent relocation to purpose-built, contemporary offices and its early adoption of technology”

Rather than being limited by its history, the company leverages it as a dialogue starter, emphasizing its capacity to grow and provide useful insights and legal counsel for clients addressing modern problems like Brexit and COVID-19.

To this end, Thomson Snell & Passmore, with a rich history dating back to 1570, has faced several challenges over the years. From the ever-changing landscape of the legal industry to the ongoing evolution of client expectations, the company has shown exceptional adaptability.

The firm has always kept up with changes in technology, legislation, and client needs by integrating innovative solutions and extending its range of services, by recruiting highly skilled employees. The company has survived and grown because of strategic diversification, technology integration, and a commitment to quality. The firm also maintains its reputation as a prominent law firm by accepting change, promoting leadership succession, and maintaining a client-centric strategy, positioning it for future success.

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