Law society
A Law Society in current and former Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 jurisdictions was historically an association of solicitors (effectively the trade organisation for solicitors) with a regulatory role that included the right to supervise the training, qualifications and conduct of lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

s/solicitors. Where there is a distinction between barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

s and solicitor
Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

s, solicitors were regulated by the law societies and barristers by a separate Bar Council
Bar council
A bar council , in a Commonwealth country and in the Republic of Ireland, the Bar Council of Ireland is a professional body that regulates the profession of barristers together with the King's Inns. Solicitors are generally regulated by the Law society....


Much has changed for law societies in recent years, with governments in Australia, New Zealand, England and Wales, and now Scotland (2010) creating government sponsored regulators for lawyers (both barristers and solicitors), leaving to law societies the role of advocacy on behalf of their members.

In Canada, law societies have had statutory responsibility for regulation of the legal profession in the public interest, leaving advocacy to the Canadian Bar Association
Canadian Bar Association
The Canadian Bar Association represents over 37,000 lawyers, judges, notaries, law teachers, and law students from across Canada.-History:The Association's first Annual Meeting was held in Montreal in 1896. However, the CBA has been in continuous existence in its present form since 1914...


In the United States, unified bar association
Bar association
A bar association is a professional body of lawyers. Some bar associations are responsible for the regulation of the legal profession in their jurisdiction; others are professional organizations dedicated to serving their members; in many cases, they are both...

s are somewhat similar to Law Societies, however there are differences between law societies and the general American phenomenon of bar associations. Usually a bar association is an association of lawyers; lawyers may or may not join as they wish. Regulation of American lawyers usually takes places through the courts, which decide who gets admitted as a lawyer, and also decide discipline cases. Law societies are often created by legislation and play (or played) significant direct roles in the training, licensing and disciplining of lawyers. The conflict or roles between being a regulator and a trade association is seen by many as giving rise to the recent move to government sponsored regulators.

Law Societies also play a role as part of the justice system, and concern themselves with access to justice. As a result, they may offer paid and unpaid legal assistance to the public or specific target audiences, and have historically been involved in the development of legal aid
Legal aid
Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people otherwise unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal aid is regarded as central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial.A number of...


Law Societies in the British Islands and Ireland

  • Law Society of England and Wales
    Law Society of England and Wales
    The Law Society is the professional association that represents the solicitors' profession in England and Wales. It provides services and support to practising and training solicitors as well as serving as a sounding board for law reform. Members of the Society are often consulted when important...

     (c. 1825)
  • Law Society of Scotland
    Law Society of Scotland
    The Law Society of Scotland is the professional governing body for Scottish solicitors.It promotes excellence among solicitors through representation, support and regulation of its members. It also promotes the interests of the public in relation to the profession...

     (c. 1949)
  • Law Society of Ireland
    Law Society of Ireland
    The Law Society of Ireland is the educational, representative and regulatory body of the solicitors' profession in the Republic of Ireland...

     (c. 1852)
  • Law Society of Northern Ireland
    Law Society of Northern Ireland
    'The is a professional body established by Royal Charter granted on 10 July 1922 and whose powers and duties are to regulate the solicitors' profession in Northern Ireland with the aim of protecting the public....

     (c. 1922)
  • Isle of Man Law Society
    Isle of Man Law Society
    The Isle of Man Law Society is the professional body in respect of the advocates' profession in the Isle of Man.The Society is the longest established professional body in the Isle of Man, formed by the Law Society Act 1859 passed by Tynwald while the island's capital was still at Castletown...

     (c. 1859)
  • Law Society of Jersey
  • Law Society of Guernsey
  • Ecclesiastical Law Society
    Ecclesiastical Law Society
    The Ecclesiastical Law Society is an organization based in the United Kingdom that "exists to promote the study of ecclesiastical and canon law particularly in the Church of England and those churches in communion with it." Persons of any religious denomination with a professional interest in...

    , Church of England
  • Society of Solicitor Advocates, Scotland
  • Social Housing Law Association

Law Societies elsewhere

  • Law Society of Alberta
    Law Society of Alberta
    The Law Society of Alberta is the self-regulating body for lawyers in Alberta, Canada.-Purpose:The Law Society is created and governed by the . As a law society, the Law Society is much more than a professional association and every lawyer who practices in Alberta must belong to it...

     (c. 1907)
  • Law Society of British Columbia (c. 1869)
  • Fiji Law Society
    Fiji Law Society
    The Fiji Law Society is the official body that registers and regulates the activity of all lawyers in Fiji. Devanesh Sharma was elected to replace Graeme Leung as President of the Fiji Law Society on 9 September 2006, and as such he holds membership ex officio on the Judicial Service Commission...

  • Law Society of Hong Kong (c. 1907)
  • Law Society of Manitoba
    Law Society of Manitoba
    The Law Society of Manitoba is the self-governing body for lawyers in Manitoba, Canada. Its mandate is to regulate the legal profession.To practice law in the Province of Manitoba, a person must be a member of the Law Society of Manitoba. The Law Society of Manitoba sets its own admission...

     (c. 1870)
  • New Zealand Law Society
    New Zealand Law Society
    The New Zealand Law Society is the parent body for barristers and solicitors in New Zealand. It was established in 1869, and regulates all lawyers practising in New Zealand...

     (c. 1869)
  • Law Society of Singapore
    Law Society of Singapore
    The Law Society of Singapore is the organisation that represents all lawyers in Singapore. It publishes the Law Gazette and operates a scheme for needy people to benefit from legal services free-of-charge. The Society also sets out rules for how lawyers should advertise. The Law Society is...

     (c. 1967)
  • Law Society of Upper Canada
    Law Society of Upper Canada
    The Law Society of Upper Canada is responsible for the self-regulation of lawyers and paralegals in the Canadian province of Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1797, it is known in French as "Le Barreau du Haut-Canada"...

     (c. 1797)

Law Societies in the British Islands and Ireland

Canadian Law Societies

Australian Law Societies

New Zealand Law Societies

South African Law Societies

Law Societies of Other Nations

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