Birmingham law firm Eversheds is celebrating its 100th anniversary despite the First World War almost ending the business as it began.
The firm's future was thrown into turmoil within months of being founded in 1914 after one of its founders was called-up to fight.
But 'Tommy' Tomkinson was one of the fortunate ones to survive and on his return he and Edward Evershed laid the foundations of a firm that went on to become a global legal powerhouse, with 52 offices in 30 countries and an income of around £500 million.
Tomkinson's call-up was just one of many facets of Eversheds' rich history shared with guests at an event held at Birmingham Town Hall to mark the firm's 100th anniversary.
Staff and clients were joined by descendants of the firm's founders, Edward Evershed and Francis Martin (Tommy) Tomkinson who set up Evershed & Tomkinson Solicitors at 1 Newhall Street in Birmingham, on May 1, 1914.
Evershed was one of five sons of the entrepreneur Sydney Evershed, who had been the one time MP for Burton-upon-Trent.
His brewery merged with a rival in 1909 to create the company Marston, Thompson and Eversheds, which is now Marston's.
Tomkinson's father, who had started out as a draper in Worcester, travelled to the US in the 1860s to buy the patent for Administer carpets.
He returned to Kidderminster and created the Tomkinson carpet empire. Tomkinson spent his entire working life in Birmingham, having been articled to Richard Pinsent.
After a successful start, with the firm acting for both commercial and private clients, its progress was threatened by the outbreak of the First World War.
"The First World War changed everything," said current senior office partner David Beswick.
"Tommy was aged 30 and at the annual camp of his Territorial Army unit, the 7th Worcestershire's, when war broke out on August 4 1914.
"He was immediately mobilised. Edward, who was aged 47, was too old to join up and remained running the firm with only one other legally qualified member of staff."
Tomkinson rose through the ranks and fought in some of the war's most famous battles.
Mr Beswick added: "Tommy managed to survive the First World War, spending three years on the Western front and ending the war in Italy.
"As part of the Somme offensive, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and he went on to fight in the Third Battle of Ypres, being awarded a Bar to his DSO.
"He finished as a colonel commanding the 144th Infantry Regiment, who successfully repelled the advancing Austrian troops.
"The Italian government awarded him the Italian Croce de Guerra for his efforts.
"After the war in 1919, Tommy returned to the firm and one of the first deals was buying a Midland brewery on Nova Scotia Street for Mitchells & Butlers."
Evershed & Tomkinson grew steadily in the 1920s and 1930s, with Edward's son Stanley joining the firm and taking over as senior partner.
Following the Second World War, the 1950s and 1960s saw further strong growth.
In the late 1980s, it opened a London office and a couple of years later became part of a national firm, with other practices based in Manchester, Sheffield, Norwich, Newcastle, Cardiff and Leeds.
The firm also merged with Nottingham firm Wells & Hind in 1989 to form Eversheds Wells & Hind.
Eversheds acquired its first overseas office in Brussels in 1995 when it merged with the London practice of Jacques and Lewis and a French office in 1998 when it merged with Frere Cholmeley Bischoff.
Mr Beswick added: "Edward and Tommy would be immensely proud of the firm today.
"The Town Hall event was a great celebration to thank our loyal clients and people past and present who have made the firm what it is today. This is a real success story for Birmingham."