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History of the Law Society in United Kingdom

Legal Profession in the sixteenth century

By the mid-sixteenth century there were two branches of the legal profession:
a) barristers, and
b) attorneys and solicitors.

Traditionally solicitors dealt with landed estates. On the other hand, attorneys advised parties in lawsuits. Gradually, these two roles combined and the name ’solicitors’ was adopted.
Although there were many eminent solicitors, there were also ‘pettifoggers and vipers’ (impostors) disgracing the profession.

The Law Institution

In 1823, several prominent attorneys met to establish the ‘The London Law Institution’ to raise the reputation of the legal profession by setting standards and ensuring good practice. This would be set up near the Inns of Court. By 1825 the term ‘London’ was dropped from the title to show the Institution wanted to make the legal profession, a better one, not only in London, but at the national level.

The Society

The Society was founded on 2 June 1825, when a committee of management was appointed. The Society acquired its first royal charter in 1831, and opened a new building in Chancery Lane, in 1832. A new Charter in 1845 defined the Society as an independent, private body servicing the affairs of the profession like other professional, literary and scientific bodies.

The organisation became known colloquially as the Law Society although its first formal title was ‘The Society of Attorneys, Solicitors, Proctors and others not being Barristers, practising in the Courts of Law and Equity of the United Kingdom’. In 1903, the Society changed its official name to ‘The Law Society’.


Women were first admitted as solicitors in 1922. Today, more than half the people involved in this profession in the United Kingdom are women. Over the years, the ruling Council of elected office holders and members has grown in size. Seats have been created to reflect the composition and interests of the members. Originally 25, today there are 105 Council members.

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: History of the Law Society
  • Author: International
  • Description: Legal Profession in the sixteenth century By the mid-sixteenth century there were two branches of the legal profession: a) [...]

This entry was last updated: July 15, 2013



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