About the Law Society of Northern Ireland

An overview of the governing body of solicitors in Northern Ireland.

Who are we, and what are our aims?

Law Society HouseThe Law Society of Northern Ireland (the Law Society) is the independent, self-funding body that governs solicitors in Northern Ireland.

We’re an authoritative voice on justice issues and issues surrounding the administration of law, and the protection of the citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms.

We promote the benefit of legal expertise of solicitors for the local community and business, with the added value that solicitors bring in terms of commercial acumen, diversity and experience in finding solutions.

Our aim is to ensure that solicitors remain free from influence from government and other sectional interests.

Our history and ethical standards

Established by Royal Charter in 1922, the Law Society sets and regulates professional and ethical standards for solicitors for the protection of the public.

Professional and ethical standards are twofold, and relate to:

  • the quality of the legal service that clients are entitled to expect from their solicitor
  • the behaviour of their solicitor, including the propriety of solicitors’ conduct in general, and the handling of client funds in particular

Our members

The profession comprises some 2,700 practising solicitors in Northern Ireland, with a wide network of over 530 solicitors’ firms in private practice at over 70 locations throughout the jurisdiction. These range from sole practitioners to 10 or more partners or directors in larger firms. Solicitors also work in the public sector, in-house organisations and other legal employment.

The Law Society’s Royal Charter, the Solicitors’ (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, bye laws and regulations set out the governance and legal framework of the Law Society.

Our governance 

The Law Society is governed by a council of 30 elected members. The council is headed by the president. The elected president, senior and junior vice presidents and chief executive comprise the presidential team. The president, senior and junior vice presidents hold office for a three-year period.

Typically, the senior vice president is the immediate outgoing president, and junior vice president the incoming president during the period. Each will have held senior positions on the council of the Law Society before taking office.

The chief executive is the Registrar of Solicitors, who has statutory power to grant practising certificates to those admitted to the roll of solicitors, on annual application. There is statutory power to suspend a solicitor’s practising certificate.

The chief executive is the secretary to the council and principal accounting officer.

The council has power, subject to the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, to make regulations under the Solicitors’ (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, which specify requirements and standards in areas of practice.

The statutory and other business of the Law Society is discharged through dedicated committees which report to the council.

How we interact with the wider community

The Law Society engages with local and central government, political parties, financial institutions, the public, media and other interest groups on all matters that directly affect the profession and its clients, to enshrine and embed the individual’s right to access to justice, and promote the interests of the public and our profession.

The Society ensures that the practical experience and legal knowledge of solicitors working with clients in the community is collated and referred to decision makers, to inform debate and influence the decision-making process.

To find out more, go to www.lawsoc-ni.org