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The world's oldest law firm is one you've never heard of: Thomson Snell & Passmore. The England-based law firm has offices in the towns of Dartford and Tunbridge Wells near London.
Part of the reason you might not have ever heard of the firm is because the firm has changed its name a number of times throughout its long and storied life. Well, you would expect something like that from a law firm has been around since Shakespeare was writing his sonnets.
The firm that would eventually become Thomson Snell & Passmore began life in 1570 when founder Nicholas Hooper, a curate of the Tonbridge Parish Church established the firm and announcing himself a 'scrivener and drafter of documents'. This gives you an idea of just how old this place is...."scrivener." His son John took on the practice after Hooper's passing which was the first of many takeovers that would lead to Thomson Snell & Passmore.
What's in a Name?
Most people don't generally think of law firm names as something that change, but Thomson has done so many times. During the Victorian era, the firm was known as Alleyne & Walker. During the throes of the Industrial Revolution it then became Alleyne Walker & Freer. Around the Korean War it purchased by Templar & Passmore. After a flurry of activity later, the name finally settled to its current one in 1968: Thomson Snell & Passmore.
The company has been known for setting records before. Frederick Alfred Snell, son of the founder, also held the distinction as being England's oldest practicing solicitor attorney. He passed away in 1954 at age 96.
The firm will have to wait a bit longer, however, before it's achievement can be officially recorded in the Guinness World Records. That honor will be recorded in by the Guinness organization in 2017.