Solicitors Waldrons are celebrating a milestone anniversary having been at the heart of the Black Country's economy for 140 years.

The firm, which was founded in Brierley Hill High Street by William Waldron, has evolved over the years to become one of the most respected in the Dudley area.

The eight-partner company employs more than 60 staff and specialists at its Merry Hill, Dudley and Kingswinford offices, and offers a range of private client and business services, some unheard of in the 1860s.

Peter Waldron is the fourth generation of his family to be a partner in the business.

Over recent years a substantial shift of focus has been taken by the partnership.

"Historically our clients had been high street family firms based in the Black Country, and that had been a very successful strategy over many years," he recalled.

"By the early 1990s, the high street was disappearing as quickly as the firms. This has seen us refocus our business by developing specialist litigation services."

Indeed, the last decade has seen Waldrons transform the scale of its operations.

Aside from its growing involvement in corporate and commercial issues, Waldrons is devoting increased resources to family law and personal injury claims.

"We have four solicitors who do nothing else but focus on matrimonial and childcare issues, and it is very much an expanding area of activity," said Mr Waldron.

"We are probably the leading firm locally for all aspects of personal injury and clinical negligence, including industrial disease cases."

Moving into such new areas brings Waldrons head-to-head with the national players.

Mr Waldron went on: "Historically, we're known as a firm that had its roots in the Black Country and that is important, but more and more we are finding our client base is widespread across the country, with clients in London, the South West and the North East.

"Clients are happy to use the firm even from a distance as we are about people, contacts, service, and reputation.

"We're always trying to improve what we do, and the expertise we can offer. Our success has seen us double staff numbers in the last five years."

Waldrons' commitment to the service standards has been rewarded with the Law Society's Lexcel quality mark.

Only six per cent of solicitors nationwide are accredited with the Lexcel mark, which is only awarded to firms that meet the required standards of excellence in customer care, case management and risk management. Heavy investment in IT means all three of Waldrons' offices are networked online.

"We apply latest technology to deliver specialist legal services effectively and efficiently," said Mr Waldron.

"This has seen us develop our innovative case management system to make the conveyancing process even faster."

The rapid evolution of Waldrons' commercial and corporate operations contrasts sharply with its traditional strategy.

Mr Waldron says the firm numbers a steadily-growing list of overseas companies among its clients.

"We've worked on several inward investment projects with businesses from the United States and Germany looking to establish themselves in this area," he said.

Waldrons' corporate arm remains active in the mergers and acquisitions sector.

"We are involved with the planning of several MBOs, as well as working with a number of company owners looking for an exit route," he noted.

For the future, Waldrons' focus is to ensure that the personal touch remains as the firm grows.

"We concentrate on people first and foremost, and that is how we will continue," added Mr Waldron.