How to look for records of... Lawyers

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Visit us in Kew

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free

Pay for research

This is a brief guide to help you with your research. Many records of lawyers survive, especially in archives of the relevant court.

The National Archives is the best place to look for historic records relating to solicitors and attorneys (former name for solicitors practicing in the courts of equity including Court of Chancery). For records of barristers see below.

What do I need to know before I start?

Try to find out the dates your lawyer practised as this will help to focus your search.

In England and Wales an attorney was a lawyer who practised in the superior courts of common law. They dealt with the procedural steps of litigation but did not plead for their clients in court.

Until 1838 solicitors and attorneys had to be admitted to each of the courts in which they wished to practise. Each court kept its own records of admissions.

Solicitors performed a similar procedural role in courts of equity. Solicitors and attorneys both represented private parties involved in litigation. In 1873 all solicitors and attorneys became Solicitors of the Supreme Court.

Online records

Search Articles of Clerkship (1756–1874) on Ancestry (£).

These include affidavits of due execution (KB 105, KB 106, KB 107, CP 71) and registers of articles of clerkship (CP 71).

Records available only at The National Archives in Kew

To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).

Clerkships in the Court of Common Pleas (c.1713–1867)

Search articles of clerkship using the name of the qualified solicitor or the person they were training. Click on CP 5 to search for records within the series using keywords and dates.

Browse our catalogue for registers of articles in CP 71.

Registers of affidavits from the Court of King’s Bench (1749–1877)

Browse our catalogue in KB 170 for registers of affidavits made by articled clerks prior to being admitted to serve as attorneys and solicitors on the Court of King’s Bench. These are arranged by surname of clerk.

Register of affidavits from the Exchequer of Pleas (1833–1855)

Consult the file E 4/3 for a register of affidavits of due execution of articles of clerkship relating to the Exchequer and related organisations.

Records in other archives and organisations

Records of the Registrar of Attorneys and Solicitors

Find out to which court the attorney was admitted to practise – they are likely to hold the records. The Law Society has records of the Registrar of Attorneys and Solicitors, set up in 1843, which might help you find the relevant court.

Records of barristers

Find Barristers Rolls (1868–1986) in KB 4. There are earlier oath rolls in KB 24.

You might be able to find out more about a barrister by contacting the relevant Inns of Court:

Records and resources of the Institute of Legal Studies

Search for records relating to a number of organisations concerned with legal education at the Institute of Legal Studies and consult the institute’s directories of lawyers at Senate House Libraries.

Other resources


Search The Inner Temple Admissions Database for biographical information about past members of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, one of the four London-based Inns of Court.


Visit The National Archives’ bookshop for a range of publications relating to courts and the legal profession.

Consult the Law Lists: a directory of lawyers published annually between 1775 and 1976.

The Law Society has a complete run of Law lists.