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The people of Milton Keynes were, until recently, inhabitants of the largest conurbation without a league football team in Europe. The consortium Inter MK was formed to change all that. It spearheaded the drive to bring London’s Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes. This season, Wimbledon has played in front of capacity crowds in its temporary home of the Milton Keynes Hockey Stadium, as plans for the development of a 30,000 all-seater stadium in the town continue. And just as the arrival of professional football can be seen as emblematic of Milton Keynes’ own coming of age, so too is one local law firm – which happens to list Inter MK as a client – now knocking on the door of the national top 100 league.
“We decided four years ago to bring in two satellite offices in Luton and Southampton, and concentrate on Milton Keynes as the place to be,” says Fennemores managing partner Martin Keeling. “We undertook a huge rebranding exercise and invested a lot of money in our building and making sure that we delivered a top-quality service. Over those four years, we’ve increased turnover by 50 per cent, so that now each partner is turning over almost £1m.”
Keeling is proud of his firm’s achievements, as well as its roots in Milton Keynes. An amalgamation of three high street practices, Fennemores was formed in 1966 – before Milton Keynes even existed (it was created in 1971). “We’ve grown as Milton Keynes has grown,” says Keeling, adding that the firm’s original members occupied an office in the centre of the town when much of its surroundings were still a building site.
It is all rather different now. Fennemores is sitting pretty as the largest firm in Milton Keynes, with a total of 75 fee-earners who can tap into a super-slick IT system with 83 different software packages. The firm concentrates on commercial property (the hotel group Corus and Regal and the Salvation Army are two major clients), personal injury and private client work. Banking is another specialism and Fennemores is on the business bank lending panel for Barclays. “We’ve shown an ability to deliver value for money for large institutions, and can do high-tech as well as volume work,” says Keeling.
Indeed, Keeling goes on to say that there is “very little that we don’t do”. He points out that Milton Keynes is now the principal financial centre on the M1 corridor, nestling comfortably between Birmingham and London. “We can draw in clients who would usually think of going to Birmingham or London,” he says. “And we see the development of the practice going hand-in-hand with the ongoing growth of Milton Keynes.”
Keeling says the firm has “grown organically by winning the business” – and that business still includes acting for Inter MK in its ongoing efforts to transplant Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes. The club’s supporters might be hoping that some of the success demonstrated by Fennemores rubs off on their team.
Total number of partners
Total number of lawyers
Main practice areas
Commercial, personal injury and private client
Barclays, Capita, Corus and Regal Hotels, Inter MK, Motor Insurers’ Bureau and The Open University