History of the Law Society of Ireland

“So long as Laws shall be administered in these countries, the most unreserved and ample confidence and trust must be placed in a profession, the Members of which are so intimately connected with all the transactions of life, - the legal protection of property, of Liberty and Life itself, being entrusted to their peculiar care.“

Report of the Committee of the Attorneys and Solicitors of Ireland appointed in pursuance of the resolutions passed at the General Meeting held in the Court of Common Pleas on the 28 May, 1841.

History of the Law Society of Ireland

Establishment and early history

The Society of Attorneys and Solicitors of Ireland was established in 1830 and re-formed in May 1841 when the Honorable Benchers of the King’s Inns granted the Society rooms in the Four Courts. Its first elected President was Josias Dunn, a native of Kinsale, Co. Cork. The Society was governed by a Council of 31 elected members. Rules were published shortly after the formation of the Society.

In 1852, Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter which incorporated the Society, followed by a further Supplemental Charter in 1888, which allowed for the nomination to Council of members representing the four Provinces and also changed the name of the Society to the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, the Society gained its independence from the King’s Inns with the transfer of education and disciplinary functions to the Society. The Society published the first Law Directory in 1886 and the first Gazette in 1907.

History of the Law Society of Ireland

A century of progress

In 1923, the first women were admitted to the Roll of Solicitors following the enactment of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919. During 2019/2020 the Law Society has been celebrating 100 years of women in the solicitors’ profession. A digital publication outlining the biographical history of the First 100 female solicitors was made available online in early 2020.

The Law Society moved to its current premises – the former King’s Hospital School – in 1978. A new Law School campus was constructed in 2000. The membership of the Society has grown from 281 in 1841 to over 10,000 in 2020, over half of which are women solicitors.

More information

For further information on the history of the Law Society, visit the online archive on the Library Catalogue and refer to Hall & Hogan, eds. The Law  Society of Ireland: History of a Profession 1852-2002.