Archives Guide ~ Law Department (0700)

Historical note

The Office of Attorney and Solicitor was established by ordinance passed on June 18, 1827. The Office of City Attorney was abolished by ordinance passed April 29, 1846. The ordinance passed March 30, 1881 established the Office of Corporation Counsel and Office of City Solicitor. Known as the Law Department, it was jointly under the charge of the Corporation Counsel and City Solicitor. The Office of City Solicitor was abolished and the department placed under sole charge of the Corporation Counsel by ordinance which went into effect on July 1, 1904.

The Corporation Counsel has supervisory authority over all City attorneys and legal affairs. The Law Department has general charge of all the City’s legal affairs, and represents the City of Boston and the County of Suffolk in all litigation to which they are a party. The Department provides a comprehensive array of legal services: formal and informal opinions to the Mayor, the City Council, the Boston School Committee, and City or County Officials and other employees in matters relating to the discharge of their official duties; and representation for these individuals and entities in litigation of all types. Additionally, the Law Department reviews all City and County contracts, pursues claims on behalf of the City through affirmative litigation, initiates foreclosure proceedings on tax delinquent properties, and conducts a program which provides technical assistance to citizens and others with problems concerning immigration, residency status and naturalization.



0700.001 Opinions of the Corporation Counsel 1895-1956, 1966-1969 42 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Legal opinions of the Corporation Counsel.

Link to finding aid



0700.002 General Docket 1939-1997 15 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Docket of cases handled by the Law Department. Lists names of parties, date of process, court, cause of action, remarks and results.



0700.003 Examinations of titles [of land purchased by the city?] circa 1860-1890 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
Record of title examinations on properties purchased by the city. Includes Austin Farm and other properties.



0700.004 Publication 1904 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
Includes printed copy of the will of Benjamin Franklin and of the proceedings of the Courts and of the Managers of the Franklin Fund relating to the will which were compiled by the Corporation Counsel.


0700.005 City of Boston et al. v. Keene Corporation et al. records, circa 1923-1989 36 record cartons

Scope and Contents note
Records from the suit brought by the City of Boston against manufacturers of materials containing asbestos for reimbursement for the cost of abatement of the asbestos in public buildings.  Includes contracts of city-owned buildings from 1923-1971 that were used as exhibits in the case.  Buildings include schools, libraries, fire stations, police stations, city hospital, etc.  Also includes records from the case itself.


0700.006 Correspondence, 1884-1982 with gaps 51 record cartons

Scope and Contents note
One of the functions of the Law Department is to provide formal and informal opinions to the Mayor, the City Council, the Boston School Committee, and City or County Officials and other employees in matters relating to the discharge of their official duties.  This collection documents the communications between various city officials and employees and the Law Department regarding these requests.  The collection is divided into two series based on the format of the records.  The first series includes letter copy volumes of correspondence between the Corporation Counsel and various departments.  The second series includes files arranged by department name containing correspondence between that department and the Corporation Counsel.

Link to finding aid


0700.007 Law Department records, 1908-1997 (bulk, 1915-1970) 93 record cartons

Scope and Contents note
Files on various litigation, research, etc. undertaken by the Law Department.  Includes files on real estate issues, bequests, contacts, bridges, departmental matters, subject files of William H. Kerr, Senior Legal Researcher in the Law Department from the 1930s-1970, and litigation files. Includes a file on the Cocoanut Grove fire inquest.

Link to finding aid