How to look for records of... Lawyers
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
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?
What records can I see online?
What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
What other resources will help me find information?
Did you know?
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.