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Joint Brussels Office of the Law Societies

The Brussels office of the Law Societies opened in 1991 initially representing only England and Wales. Scotland joined in 1994 and Northern Ireland in 2000.

The office was set up to represent the interests of the solicitors’ profession to EU decision makers and to provide advice and information to solicitors on EU legislation and policy developments. To this end, the Brussels-based staff follow a wide range of dossiers which affect both how solicitors operate in practice and the advice which they give to their clients.

Law Society of England and Wales

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 Law Society’s activities are funded partly by solicitors’ practising certificate fee and partly from commercial activities.

The core objectives of the Law Society are to represent, promote and support all solicitors, so they in turn can help their clients. The Society also works to ensure that no one is above the law and to protect everyone’s right to have access to justice. The Society also promotes England and Wales as the jurisdiction of choice and the vital role legal services play in the economy.

The Law Society works internationally to open up markets to its members and to defend human rights while supporting its members with opportunities in the domestic market.

The Society represents over 166,000 solicitors qualified in England and Wales.

The Law Society is governed by its Council, set up under its Royal Charter, with Council members elected to represent members from England and Wales, including different demographic groups and parts of the profession.

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Law Society of Scotland

The Law Society of Scotland was created by an Act of Parliament in 1949 and our rules are set out in the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980. The organisation is funded by its members.

All Scottish practising solicitors are members of the Law Society of Scotland and are required to meet their high standards. Law Society of Scotland also has an important duty towards the public interest.

The Society has a governing Council, which sits as the principal decision-making body of the organisation. It is made up of solicitor members, the vast majority of whom are elected by solicitors in constituencies covering each part of Scotland.

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Law Society of Northern Ireland

The Law Society of Northern Ireland was established in 1922 when a Royal Charter was granted to solicitors in Northern Ireland to permit the setting up of the Incorporated Law Society of Northern Ireland.

As laid out in the Royal Charter, the Law Society’s powers and duties are to represent and regulate the solicitors’ profession in Northern Ireland with the aim of protecting the public. Under the Solicitors (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, the Law Society acts as the regulatory authority governing the education, accounts, discipline and professional conduct of solicitors in order to maintain the independence, ethical standards, professional competence and quality of services offered to the public.

The Society operates through an elected Council of 30 members, all practising solicitors, who serve on a voluntary basis. The Council is guided by the Presidential team which consists of the President, Senior Vice President and Junior President. Each member of the Presidential team is elected to office and serves a year in each of the three positions.

There are approximately 2,300 plus solicitors currently practising in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland a solicitor is a member of that branch of the legal profession whose services consist of advising clients, representing them before the lower courts and preparing cases for barristers to try in the higher courts.

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