The California Legislature recognized the need for a legal adviser as early as 1895, when it created a Commission for the Revision and Reform of the Law. The commissioners, when requested by the Legislature or any of its committees, attended sessions of the Legislature and acted as "legislative counsel or adviser, in drafting or passing upon the form of any bill or proposed bill, pending, or to be introduced before the Legislature."
In 1913, the Legislative Counsel Bureau was established by statute as a staff agency to assist the Legislature with bill drafting and statutory revision.
The first Legislative Counsel was selected by a board consisting of the Governor and two Members of each House of the Legislature. In 1917, the position was made appointive at the pleasure of the Governor. The law was changed in 1927 to the present procedure for the selection of Legislative Counsel by the Legislature, through the adoption of a concurrent resolution at the beginning of each session. The law requires that the selection be made without reference to political party affiliation and solely upon the ground of fitness to perform the duties of the office.