Midland law firm Needham & James is celebrating its first 50 years in practice.

And 2006 is set to be a landmark for the firm, with turnover up 12.5 per cent on last year, a move to prestigious new premises in the pipeline, and ambitious expansion plans for the next five years.

Needham & James started in 1956 when commercial lawyer Keith James joined Henry Need-ham in a two-partner practice.

It achieved growth throughout the 1970s and 1980s, both in Birmingham and in Stratford-upon-Avon, before the Birmingham practice merged with DLA in 1993.

Today, with 156 staff working from four offices across the Midlands, the firm is now a leading player in Birmingham and on the regional legal scene.

Its employment law team is one of the largest in the Midlands, while the commercial property and social housing departments have each built a strong national presence. The corporate and banking team has recently been boosted by a series of new appointments and the launch of a new Islamic Finance arm. In addition, specialist services have been developed to serve niche markets such as agriculture and sports law.

Last year, Needham & James moved up the Midlands rankings to 25, according to Legal 500.

Needham & James senior partner John Hughes says the firm's success is based on an all-round commitment to deliver quality and value and a highly personalised approach to client care.

"Our culture is all about people, and I believe that this is evident in everything we do, not only for our clients but also for our staff.

"We take a holistic approach and our private client department continues to thrive, handling a high proportion of work for those whose business interests we also represent.

"This approach to our work, combined with the high level of expertise within the practice, has helped us build a business which has tripled in size over the past five years."

To mark the special anniversary year, Need-ham & James is boosting its support for its local communities and is setting up a trust to support charities.