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In 1946, two Solicitors taking the bus to work in Swansea got chatting about their respective jobs. Their chats became a regular fixture of their daily commutes and soon John Mercer and Neville Douglas-Jones had struck up a close friendship.
Eventually they had the idea to go into business together, so they rented a single room on The Kingsway in Swansea and set up Douglas-Jones & Mercer Solicitors, which has become known to many in the area and even further afield as DJM.
This year DJM celebrates its 70th birthday and is recognised as a leading law firm with clients not only in South Wales but nationally.
David Mercer, the son of John Mercer, worked for the practice between 1973 and 1982 as a partner, and remembers the stories his father used to tell him about how he started the firm. David left the firm to pursue his passion for Tennis and become a Wimbledon umpire, notably the ‘McEnroe – Connors’ final of 1984 to then move into sports broadcasting.
“My father and Neville had left the army after the war and were both working as assistant solicitors at separate law firms in Swansea,” he explains. “During the course of their conversations my father revealed he couldn’t stand conveyancing work and probate and Neville said he couldn’t stand court. They thought that was a good basis for a partnership.”
David remembers a particularly difficult time for his father during the firm’s early years.
“When I was very young my father represented the last man hanged in Wales. There was no question his client was guilty but they argued it should be diminished responsibility. The jury didn’t agree and he was hanged in Swansea Prison.
“I remember my father being quite affected by the whole case.”
As the firm grew rapidly during the 1970’s (opening a branch network in Gorseinon, Morriston, Mumbles and Ammanford), it then consolidated in the 1990’s by growing its city centre hub in Swansea extending its headquarters in St Helens Road.
In 2006, DJM moved from the city centre and opened its flagship office near junction 45 of the M4 at Axis Court, Swansea Vale Enterprise Park where it also celebrates a ten year milestone.
The key to providing the excellent service of the past 70 years is not just about the comfortable modern offices. It is the quality of personnel that make the difference and the team at DJM is second to none. Individually the lawyers offer great depth of knowledge in particular aspects of law; collectively they offer great breadth. The result of this is an enthusiastic and lively team ready and willing to tackle any legal problem.
The same applies to DJM’s support staff, without whom, its lawyers could not function effectively.
Michael Snowdon, Chairman and Director, who has been with DJM for 40 years, comments on how law firms have changed during his time, “When I started my legal career as an Articled Clerk it is a different world compared to now. The use of technology and being able to communicate at any time anywhere has certainly sped up the legal process. In the past you would send a letter and it would be over a week before receiving a response whereas now it can be within an hour. It will be interesting to see how this develops further in the future.”
DJM have been frequently acknowledged in the prestigious Legal 500 guide for its high ranking work in Wales and is now looking forward to the next milestone.
DJM Solicitors are founded.
Move to St Helens Road in Swansea by which time have grown to 9 partners
DJM open a network of branch areas in the surrounding regions of Swansea.
DJM expand its Commercial law departments by centralising to Swansea and expanding offices in St Helens Road
DJM expands staff number and acquire further offices in St Helens Road
DJM relocate to a purpose built office at Axis Court, Swansea Vale Enterprise Park
DJM continue to expand its Board of Directors.
DJM re-open a Mumbles office due to client demand
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Read Barry Davies' article 'Mindful Mentor' featured in Legal Practice Management - November 2018
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