Law Society of Ireland

Coordinates: 53°20′56″N 6°16′58″W / 53.348754°N 6.282724°W / 53.348754; -6.282724
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Law Society of Ireland
Dlí-Chumann na hÉireann
PredecessorSociety of Attorneys and Solicitors of Ireland
Formation15 March 1852; 172 years ago (1852-03-15)
TypeProfessional association
Legal statusChartered
PurposeEducational, representative and regulatory
Professional title
HeadquartersBlackhall Place
  • Dublin, Ireland
Coordinates53°20′56″N 6°16′58″W / 53.348754°N 6.282724°W / 53.348754; -6.282724
Region served
Membership (2020)
Maura Derivan
Senior Vice President
Barry MacCarthy
Junior Vice President
Rosemarie Loftus
Director General
Mark Garrett
Main organ
Budget (2020)
€31.2 million
FundingProfessional and educational fees
Staff (2020)
Students (2020)
921 (Professional Practice Courses)

The Law Society of Ireland (Irish: Dlí-Chumann na hÉireann) is a professional body established on 24 June 1830 and is the educational, representative and regulatory body of the solicitors' profession in Ireland. As of 2020, the Law Society had over eleven thousand solicitor members, a staff of 150 and an annual turnover of over €30m.[citation needed] It is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland's capital city.

Under the Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2015, the Law Society exercises functions in relation to the education, admission, enrolment, discipline and regulation of the solicitors' profession. It is the professional body for its solicitor members, to whom it also provides services and support.[1]

Relationship with the Law Society of Northern Ireland[edit]

Prior to the partition of Ireland, solicitors in what became Northern Ireland were regulated by the Law Society of Ireland. They are now regulated by the Law Society of Northern Ireland.[2]

Republic of Ireland-qualified solicitors are entitled to apply to the Law Society of Northern Ireland to be admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in Northern Ireland without taking any further examinations. Northern Ireland-qualified solicitors have a reciprocal eligibility.[3]


The Law Society of Ireland was established on 24 June 1830 with premises at Inns Quay, Dublin. In November 1830, the committee of the Society submitted a memorial to the benchers as to the ‘necessity and propriety’ of erecting chambers for the use of solicitors with the funds that solicitors had been levied to pay to King's Inns over the years.[4] The committee requested that the hall and chambers for the use of solicitors should be erected away from the King's Inns, and apartments in the Four Courts were allotted by the King's Inns to solicitors in May 1841. However, the adequacy of that accommodation at the Four Courts was to be a bone of contention between the Society and the benchers for 30 years.[5] The first president, Josiah Dunn, was elected in 1842. In accordance with the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland) 1877, anyone admitted as solicitors or attorneys were, from then on, to be referred to as solicitors of the Court of Judicature (although the title of attorney lives on in the designation of the chief law officer of the State as the Attorney General).[6]

Law Society building after a snowstorm. November 2010

The Law Society was incorporated by royal charter obtained from Queen Victoria on 5 April 1852 under the name of "the Incorporated Society of Attorneys and Solicitors of Ireland". The charter referred to founding "an institution for facilitating the acquisition of legal knowledge", and for the better and more convenient discharging of professional duties of attorneys and solicitors.[7] The principal events with which the Law Society was concerned on behalf of solicitors in the second half of the 19th century were:

· The inauguration of a scheme for the education of apprentices;

· The independence of the solicitors’ profession from the King's Inns; and

· The achievement of an increasing degree of self-government and recognition of its position as the representative and regulatory body for solicitors in Ireland, culminating in the Solicitors (Ireland) Act 1898.

At the end of the 19th century, the legal functions of the Law Society were substantially increased by the Solicitors (Ireland) Act 1898, which repealed the act of 1866 and transferred control of education and important disciplinary functions from the direct supervision of the judges to that of the Society. In 1888, the constitution of the Council of the Society was changed by supplemental charter, which provided that the Northern Law Society and Southern Law Association would each be entitled to appoint members to the Council. This was further changed in 1960, when provision was made for the appointment to the Council of three members of the Dublin Solicitors’ Bar Association Council.[8] The professions of attorney and solicitor were fused under the Supreme Court of Judicature (Ireland) Act, 1877. As a consequence, the Law Society was granted a supplemental charter, again by Queen Victoria on 14 December 1888 under which the Law Society was styled the "Incorporated Law Society of Ireland". The current statutory basis for the Law Society is set out in the Solicitors Acts 1954 – 2002. In 1994, the Law Society's name was changed once more, this time the word "Incorporated" (in Irish: "Corpraithe") being omitted from its title.

Move to Blackhall Place[edit]

By the middle of the 1960s, the solicitors’ buildings at the Four Courts were proving inadequate for the expanding activities of the Society and outside premises were used for lectures for students. A special committee recommended the purchase of the premises of King's Hospital, Blackhall Place, described by renowned architectural historian, Maurice Craig, as "one of the most beautiful and, in its way, original" of Dublin's major buildings.[9] Council member of the Law Society, Peter Prentice, proposed a motion at a special meeting of the Council on 3 July 1968 (seconded by John Jermyn) that the Society purchase the King's Hospital for the sum of IR£105,000. The motion was carried unanimously and a contract was subsequently executed.[10] The Taoiseach Jack Lynch performed the official opening ceremony of the new headquarters on Wednesday 14 June 1978.[11]

The Society pressed for many years for a change in the law so as to permit the appointment of solicitors in the Circuit Court and the High Court. The Courts and Court Officers Act 1995 allowed for the appointment of solicitors as judges to the Circuit Court. In July 1996, the government announced the appointment of solicitors John F Buckley, Frank O’Donnell and Michael White as judges of the Circuit Court – the first such appointments in the history of the State.[12] The Courts and Court Officers Act 2002 provided that a person shall be qualified for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court and the High Court by being, a practising barrister or practising solicitor of not less than 12 years’ standing.[13][circular reference] Shortly after its enactment, Michael Peart became the first practising solicitor to be appointed a judge of the High Court.[14] Mr. Justice Peart is now a judge of the Court of Appeal as is Mr. Justice Garrett Sheehan. Current High Court judges include solicitors Max Barrett, Donald Binchy and Robert Eagar.


The Law Society has a range of statutory and non-statutory functions. Its statutory functions under the Solicitors Acts relate to the education and admission of persons to the profession; regulatory and disciplinary matters and the protection of solicitors' clients. The Law Society's non-statutory functions relate to the representation and provision of services to its members and protecting the public interest.[15]


A new Law School, built on premises adjoining the existing Blackhall Place headquarters, was officially opened by President Mary McAleese on 2 October 2000. The new library at Blackhall Place was also opened by President McAleese on the same day.[16] The Society offers a number of Diplomas in Law, CPD Training, and in partnership with Northumbria University two Masters programmes,[17] and a Professional Doctorate in Law.


The governing body of the Law Society is its Council. It comprises both elected and nominated members, all of whom are solicitors. Over the years the Council has established a range of committees to which it delegates certain of its statutory functions.

The Council may comprise not more than 48 persons. Of its membership, between 21 and 31 must be elected from among the Law Society's members. A delegate from each of the four provinces of Ireland must also be chosen. Up to five extraordinary members may be appointed from each of the Councils of the Southern Law Association and the Law Society of Northern Ireland while three may be appointed from the Council of the Dublin Solicitors' Bar Association.

As of 2009, the Law Society's Council comprised forty-eight members, being the maximum permitted. Annually they select one of their number as president. That term of office runs from early November to early November of the following year.[18][19]

List of presidents[edit]

  • 1842–1848 Josias Dunn
  • 1848–1860 William Goddard
  • 1860–1876 Sir Richard J. T. Orpen
  • 1876 Edward Reeves
  • 1876/77 William Roche
  • 1877/78 Sir William Findlater
  • 1878/79 William Read
  • 1879/80 Henry A. Dillon
  • 1880/81 John H. Nunn
  • 1881/82 Henry J. P. West
  • 1882/83 Henry T. Dix
  • 1883/84 William D'Alton
  • 1884/85 John Galloway
  • 1885/86 Henry L. Keily
  • 1886/87 Sir Patrick Maxwell
  • 1887/88 Richard S. Reeves
  • 1888/89 John MacSheehy
  • 1889/90 W. Burroughs Stanley
  • 1890/91 Francis R. M. Crozier
  • 1891/92 Thomas C. Franks
  • 1892/93 Edward Fitgerald
  • 1893/94 John Alexander French
  • 1894/95 Trevor T. L. Overend
  • 1895/96 Sir William Fry
  • 1896/97 Sir William Findlater
  • 1897/98 William Henry Dunne
  • 1898/99 Hugh Stuart Moore
  • 1899/1900 Richard S. Reeves
  • 1900/01 James Goff and Sir George Roche
  • 1901/02 Charles A. Stanuell
  • 1902/03 Sir Augustine F. Baker
  • 1903/04 Robert Keating Clay and Edward D. MacLaughlin
  • 1904/05 Edward D. MacLaughlin
  • 1905/06 Sir John P. Lynch
  • 1906/07 William S. Heyes
  • 1907/08 George H. Lyster
  • 1908/09 William J. Shannon
  • 1909/10 Richard A. MacNamara
  • 1910/11 Frederick Walsingham Meredith
  • 1911/12 Gerald Byrne
  • 1912/13 James Henry
  • 1913/14 Henry J. Sinnott
  • 1914/15 Arthur E. Bradley
  • 1915/16 Charles St George Orpen
  • 1916/17 John W. Richards
  • 1917/18 William V. Seddall
  • 1918/19 Richard Blair White
  • 1919/20 Robert G. Warren
  • 1920/21 Charles G. Gamble
  • 1921/22 Patrick J. Brady
  • 1922/23 Joseph E. MacDermott
  • 1923/24 James Moore
  • 1924/25 Arthur H. S. Orpen
  • 1925/26 Thomas G. Quirke
  • 1926/27 William T. Sheridan
  • 1927/28 Basil Thompson
  • 1928/29 Edward H. Burne
  • 1929/30 Peter Seales
  • 1930/31 Alexander D. Orr
  • 1931/32 Laurence J. Ryan
  • 1932/33 W. Gorden Bradley
  • 1933/34 James J. Lynch
  • 1934/35 Charles Laverty
  • 1935/36 Michael E. Knight
  • 1936/37 John J. Duggan
  • 1937/38 Thomas W. Delaney
  • 1938/39 Daniel J. Reilly
  • 1939/40 Henry P. Mayne
  • 1940/41 J. Travers Wolfe
  • 1941/42 G. Acheson Overend
  • 1942/43 John B. Hamill
  • 1943/44 Louis E. O'Dea
  • 1944/45 Parick F. O'Reilly
  • 1945/46 Daniel O'Connell
  • 1946/47 H. St J. Blake
  • 1947/48 Sean O hUadhaigh
  • 1948/49 Patrick R. Boyd
  • 1949/50 William J. Norman
  • 1950/51 Roger Green
  • 1951/52 Arthur Cox
  • 1952/53 James R. Quirke
  • 1953/54 Joseph Barrett
  • 1954/55 Thomas A. O'Reilly
  • 1955/56 Dermot P. Shaw
  • 1956/57 Nial S. Gaffney
  • 1957/58 John Carrigan
  • 1958/59 John R. Halpin
  • 1959/60 John J. Nash
  • 1960/61 Ralph J. Walker
  • 1961/62 George G. Overend
  • 1962/63 Francis J. Lanigan
  • 1963/64 Desmond J. Collins
  • 1964/65 John Maher
  • 1965/66 Robert McD. Taylor
  • 1966/67 Patrick O'Donnell TD
  • 1967/68 Parick Noonan
  • 1968/69 Eunan McCarran
  • 1969/70 James R. C. Green
  • 1970/71 Brendan A. McGrath
  • 1971/72 James W. O'Donovan
  • 1972/73 Thomas V. O'Connor
  • 1973/74 Peter D. M. Prentice
  • 1974/75 William A. Osbourne
  • 1975/76 Patrick G. Moore
  • 1976/77 Bruce St John Blake
  • 1977/78 Josseph L. Dundon
  • 1978/79 Gerald Hickey
  • 1979/80 Walter Beatty
  • 1980/81 Moya Quinlan
  • 1981/82 Brendan W. Allen
  • 1982/83 Michael P. Houlihan
  • 1983/84 Frank O'Donnell
  • 1984/85 Anthony E. Collins
  • 1985/86 Laurence Cullun
  • 1986/87 David R. Pigot
  • 1987/88 Thomas D. Shaw
  • 1988/89 Maurice R. Curran
  • 1989/90 Ernest Margetson
  • 1990/91 Donal G. Binchy
  • 1991/92 Adrian P. Bourke
  • 1992/93 Raymond T. Monahan
  • 1993/94 Michael V. O'Mahony
  • 1994/95 Patrick A. Glynn
  • 1995/96 Andrew F. Smyth
  • 1996/97 Francis D. Daly
  • 1997/98 Laurence K. Shields
  • 1998/99 Patrick O'Connor
  • 1999/2000 Anthony H. Ensor
  • 2000/01 Ward McEllin
  • 2001/02 Elma Lynch
  • 2002/03 Geraldine M. Clarke
  • 2003/04 Gerard F. Griffin
  • 2004/05 Owen M. Binchy
  • 2005/06 Michael Irvine
  • 2006/07 Philip M. Joyce
  • 2007/08 James MacGuill
  • 2008/09 John D. Shaw
  • 2009/10 Gerard Doherty
  • 2010/11 John E. Costello
  • 2011/12 Donald Binchy[20]
  • 2012/13 James McCourt
  • 2013/14 John P. Shaw
  • 2014/15 Kevin O'Higgins
  • 2015/16 Simon Murphy
  • 2016/17 Stuart Gilhooly
  • 2017/18 Michael Quinlan[21][22]
  • 2018/19 Patrick Dorgan[23]
  • 2019/20 Michele O'Boyle[24][25]
  • 2020/21 James Cahill
  • 2021/22 Michelle Ní Longáin[26]


Notable solicitors[edit]

Dorothea Heron

Dorothea Heron was the first woman to be admitted to the roll of solicitors in Ireland, on 17 April 1923.[28][29] Having commenced her studies prior to the partition of Ireland, she simultaneously qualified to practice on both sides of the newly-created border. She did conveyancing work in her uncle's practice in Belfast but didn't take out practising certificates, as was common for non-court-going solicitors at the time.[30][31]


Coat of arms of Law Society of Ireland
Granted 17 June 1912 by Nevile Rodwell Wilkinson, Ulster King of Arms.[32]
A figure of justice Proper.
Of the colours.
Azure a harp Or stringed Argent on a chief Ermine a pale Gules charged with an Imperial crown Proper.
Two Irish wolf hounds Or.
Veritas Vincit


  1. ^ "Who we are".
  2. ^ "About Us".
  3. ^ "Foreign Lawyers".
  4. ^ Hogan & Hall 2002, p. 31.
  5. ^ Hogan & Hall 2002, p. 32,40.
  6. ^ Hogan & Hall 2002, p. 59.
  7. ^ Hogan & Hall 2002, p. 41.
  8. ^ Hogan & Hall 2002, p. 43–56.
  9. ^ Hogan & Hall 2002, p. 123.
  10. ^ Hogan & Hall 2002, p. 124.
  11. ^ Hogan & Hall 2002, p. 125.
  12. ^ Hogan & Hall 2002, p. 167.
  13. ^ Courts of the Republic of Ireland
  14. ^ McKenna, Gene; Hurley, Isabel (27 June 2002). "New judge scores 'first' for solicitors". Irish Independent.
  15. ^ "Who we are".
  16. ^ Hogan & Hall 2002, p. 288.
  17. ^ Northumbria Law School and Law Society of Ireland partnership celebrates first graduates Northumbria University, 25 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Council of Law Society".
  19. ^ "Who we are".
  20. ^ "Clonmel's Donald Binchy elected President of the Law Society of Ireland for 2011/12". 12 November 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  21. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  22. ^ "President". Archived from the original on 15 November 2017.
  23. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  24. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  25. ^ "President". Archived from the original on 7 August 2020.
  26. ^ "Law Society President".
  27. ^ Hogan & Hall 2002, p. 226–227.
  28. ^ "A Trinity of Women: The First Women Solicitors in Ireland". First 100 Years.
  29. ^ "Heron, (Mary) Dorothea | Dictionary of Irish Biography". Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  30. ^ "The first triumvirate".
  31. ^ "The final frontier".
  32. ^ "Grants and Confirmations of Arms Vol. K". National Library of Ireland. p. 413. Retrieved 25 June 2022.


External links[edit]