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Wragge & Co LLP
  Country:  United Kingdom
Town:   B3 2AS Birmingham
Address:   55 Colmore Row
Phone:  +44 870 903 1000
Fax:  +44 870 904 1099
e-Mail:   alexa_highfield@wragge.com
Website:   www.wragge.com
Not a lot of people know this, but Wragge & Co takes its name from George Paulson Wragge who formed the original partnership with Clement Ingleby in 1834. They set up offices at No. 4 Bennett's Hill, where the firm remained for 130 years. At the time it was regarded as Birmingham's most prestigious professional quarter. No hot water was available but facilities included 'quite a few lavatories divided into male and female' plus 'a separate lavatory for partners with a lock and a magnificent pan, decorated with Chrysanthemums'.

Salaries, clients, early mergers and equipment
In 1879, salaries amounted to £23.80 a week, equal to £1,237 a year, for ten full-time staff. In 1884, the 27 principal clients included The Birmingham Canal Navigations, Lloyds Banking Co Ltd, the Bishop of Worcester and Tipton Moat Colliery Co Ltd. Just after the First World War, Wragge & Co enjoyed its first major expansion and, with six partners, was believed to be the largest law firm in Birmingham. In 1935 the firm went through its first merger with Gem & Co, followed in 1942 by its merger with Crockford & Son.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Wragge & Co was one of the first telephone subscribers in Birmingham with the phone number Central 167. In 1922 a private branch exchange was installed in the front-office with extensions to most rooms. It was not until the 1930s that an internal telephone system was installed, 'a press button system which involved a maze of wires of slightly different colours connecting every phone with each other'. Dictating machines were introduced in the 1920s and photocopying in 1945.

By 1945 ....
By the end of the Second World War, Wragge & Co was 'a good deal bigger than the average provincial firm', and already demonstrating its meritocratic approach. According to Corbyn Barrow, one reason for this was that 'no son of a partner should ever become a partner or even set foot in the office except as an office boy'.

By 31 March 1984, there were 19 partners 'of whom 14 served their articles of clerkship with the firm and all of whom have been assistant solicitors without any promise of partnership'.

Sir Patrick Lawrence to present day
Senior partner from 1982 to 1993 was Sir John Patrick Grosvenor Lawrence. He had joined in 1959 and was knighted in 1987. Sir Patrick handed over to John Crabtree (now CBE) who held the post for ten years. Under John's leadership the firm's turnover increased by 650% from £12 million in 1991 to £77.8 million in April 2002. On John Crabtree's retirement from the partnership, Quentin Poole acknowledged his 'outstanding contribution' leading the firm: 'He led the firm during its most successful phase to date and will be remembered for his brilliant strategic thinking and his absolute commitment.' In 2003 Legal Business awarded him Lawyer of the Year for his 'integral role in the transformation of Wragge & Co from a provincial Birmingham firm into a top national practice with an enviable FTSE 100 client base'.

In 1999 the firm merged with construction boutique Neil F Jones, while the 2000 merger with niche IP practice Needham & Grant placed Wragge & Co on the City map.

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