The Company was the brainchild of four solicitors practising in the City who called a meeting of interested parties in Innholders' Hall on 16 June 1908 at which it was resolved "to form a Company of City Solicitors practising within the City be formed on the model of the Ancient City Guilds". The proposals were approved and the Company was registered in March 1909. Early records show that professional matters were at the heart of the Company from the outset with regular lectures being held and a law library being established. A number of Committees were also formed to comment on a wide range of legal matters.
The Company's Arms (as shown on the website) were granted in 1926 by the College of Arms.
One of the aims in forming the Company was that it would become a City Livery Company and this was duly achieved on 24th May 1944 when the Court of Aldermen approved The City of London Solicitors' Company as the second of the modern livery companies (No.79). In December a motto was added to the Coat of Arms being "Lex Libertatis Origo" which may be freely translated as "Freedom's foundation is the Law".
The Arms are used by the Company on its official correspondence and appear on the Master's badge worn on all official occasions and when representing the Company at City functions. The Company also appointed St. Yves as its patron saint. St. Yves is a Breton saint who lived between 1253-1303. He was born in Treguier in Northern Brittany and studied law in Paris and Orleans. His gratuitous services earned him the title of "Advocate of the Poor". Every year in May great festivities are held in Treguier in the honour of St. Yves and over the years representatives of the Company have regularly attended.
In 1945 the Company appointed an honorary Chaplain and when he moved to become Chaplain of the Royal Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London, the Company was granted the privilege of holding its annual guild service there and has done so every year since.
The Company petitioned for and received its Royal Charter on 21st June 1957. In 1965 it set up a Charitable Fund which, although slow to develop initially, has now grown to have a significant capital base thus enabling annual donations to be made to several charities covering the City and its neighbouring areas and to the legal sector. Although the Company did not operate formally as a Local Law Society it was always involved in professional matters and in 1969 this was formalised with the development of The Professional Business Committee which subsequently became The City of London Law Society in 1986. The reason for the change was to make the professional operations of the Company more transparent. This was taken to a further level in 2007 when The City of London Law Society (CLLS) was established as an unincorporated association being separate but closely linked to the Company. This enabled the CLLS to offer corporate membership to City firms thus allowing it to represent the 15,000 solicitors practising in the square mile.
In 1990 the Company became the Trustee of the City Solicitors' Educational Trust which was established by a number of the City firms to promote the study of law at universities in order to sustain and increase the number of law graduates available. Over the years the Trust has contributed over £9 million as grants to approx. 70 higher educational establishments.
The Company offers a number of educational prizes including the Wig and Pen Prize for Pro Bono work by a young solicitor and this has been awarded since 1979. The Company has also awarded prizes to Trainees since 1929. These have subsequently been amalgamated into the Company Prize which is awarded annually to the most promising trainee solicitor working at a City firm.
Over the years the Company has formed associations with The Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London, the Society of Writers to HM Signet based in Edinburgh, the Army Legal Services and the 71st Detachment of the London Irish Rifles Cadets based in Camberwell.
In March 1998 the Company bought the Freehold of 4 College Hill, London EC4 and since then it has operated its office from this address in conjunction with The City of London Law Society. It has facilities to enable small committee meetings to be held in the building.
The Company has always had very close links with the City Corporation and has many Common Councilmen and Aldermen amongst its members. It has also had a significant number of members who have served as Lord Mayor for the City of London as follows:
Before Grant of the Livery
Sir William Waterlow 1929
Sir William P Neal 1930
After Grant of Livery
Sir Cullum Welch 1956
Sir Christopher Walford 1994
Sir Richard Nichols 1997
Sir Robert Finch 2003
Sir David Lewis 2007
Sir David Wootton 2011
Dame Fiona Woolf 2013
Alderman Vincent Keaveny 2021
1908 - Company founded. First meeting held on 16th June
1909 - Inaugural Dinner held at Mansion House on 21st January
1909 - CLSC registered as a Company limited by guarantee on 3rd September
1944 - Granted Livery
1958 - Royal Charter granted on 21st June
1965 - Charitable Fund established
1969 - Creation of Professional Business Committee to deal with all business of a professional nature. First full meeting held on 30th September
1971 - CLSC instituted a voluntary legal advice scheme in Hackney, succeeded in 1978 by extensive support from member firms for Tower Hamlets Law Centre.
1980 - Creation of Whittington Committee to look after interests of younger members
1980 - First CLSC float appeared in Lord Mayor's Show on 8th November. Unbroken record of participation ever since
1980 - First CLSC Revel on 11th December
1983 - Charity Ball at Guildhall to celebrate 75th Anniversary of CLSC
1986 - Professional Business Committee formally became the City of London Law Society
1987 - Associate membership extended to trainee solicitors
1988 - First Carbolic Smoke Ball held at Hurlingham Club
1989 - Supplemental Royal Charter granted on 29th May
1990 - City Solicitors' Educational Trust established
1999 - Affiliate membership extended to include overseas lawyers in the City, barristers, the judiciary and Fellows of the Institute of Legal Executives
2006 - Karen Richardson became the first female Master in the Company's history
2006 - City of London Law Society introduces Corporate Membership
2007 - City of London Law Society separated from the City of London Solicitors' Company to operate as an unincorporated association
2008 – The Company celebrated its centenary with a Banquet at Mansion House
2013 – Fiona Woolf became only the second female Lord Mayor for the City of London