AN historic North-East law firm - who were the inspiration behind an Elvis Costello song - is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year.

Jacksons is one of the region's longest established legal practices, employing more than 70 people at its headquarters in Stockton and Newcastle office.

It was formed by the merger in 1989 of Jacksons Monk & Rowe, founded in 1876 by solicitor Gilbert Benjamin Jackson in Middlesbrough and Cohen Jackson, founded by Reuben Cohen in Stockton in 1902. Mr Jackson continued to practice as a solicitor for 55 years opening offices in Loftus, Saltburn and a prestigious address at Lincolns Inn, London.

The Northern Echo:
Francis Henry Jackson started practicing with Gilbert Jackson, who founded Jacksons, and formed Jackson and Jackson in 1878

The Northern Echo:
Herbert Rowe became a partner in Jacksons & Monk in 1933 and the firm became Jacksons Monk & Rowe in 1938

The firm has come a long way since then and now offers a full range of business and personal legal services to clients based in the North-East, and throughout the UK.

The firm has had an eventful history. Several members of staff served valiantly in the First World War, including the son of the founder - Major Basil Jackson DSO who died of wounds sustained in 1915.

On a lighter note, in 1993 Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet released a single called Jacksons Monk & Rowe - a reference to a childhood nickname of the cellist and co-founder in the quartet who had grown up in Middlesbrough*. The album on which it appeared, the Juliet Letters, reached number 18 in the UK charts. It includes the lyric:

"They're looking for you high and low,

Now there's nowhere for you to go,

So you'll just have to come out and face the music,

Jacksons, Monk and Rowe."

Many of Jacksons team have decades of service with the firm. In the private client department alone, secretary Gail Tattersfield has worked at Jacksons for 46 years and legal assistant Christine Westwood, for 40 years and more than 15 per cent of the staff have been with the firm for over 20 years.

The firm is ahead of target for the financial year for both the Stockton and Newcastle offices with the company law team fees increasing by 52 per cent, the commercial litigation team seeing an increase in 47 per cent in fees, while commercial property fees are up by 34 per cent in Newcastle and matrimonial team fees by 63 per cent. Staff numbers rose by 10 per cent and in November 2015 the Newcastle office launched its residential conveyancing department.

Geoff Skeoch, senior partner and head of commercial property, who has served 39 years at the firm said: "The team worked very hard to achieve the growth we experienced last year and we are very grateful for their commitment to the firm.

"We are proud of the fact that many of our staff have been loyal to the firm during the tough years we’ve experienced, particularly through the latest recession. We’ve seen some of them coming into Jacksons at a very junior level and working their way through several promotions and in some cases, achieving partnership. It’s reassuring to know that we have a good succession plan in place and I’m confident that the next generation will see that Jacksons continues to build on its reputation and client commitment in the region”.

*Teessider Jacqueline Thomas, who played cello in the Brodsky Quartet, told BBC Tees John Foster how her family nickname became immortalised in song.

"My dad had an office in Queen's Square (Middlesbrough), which was Linthorpe Insurance Brokers and they were next door to Jacksons Monk & Rowe and one day when I was about five my dad came home, and because I'm Jackie, he just nicknamed me 'Jacksons Monk & Rowe' and that sort of stuck.

"Then much later when we started writing this album together my brother Michael, who was in the quartet then, wrote the song.

"He actually wrote the essence of the song to which we all added little bits and it was all about me and my childhood growing up," she said.