Mount Lawley was named in honour of Sir Arthur Lawley, the Governor of Western Australia from May 1901 to August 1902. His wife, Lady Annie Lawley, agreed to the naming of what was then bushland in her husband's name on the condition that no licensed hotels be built in the suburb.
Subdivision of Mount Lawley began in 1892 and the area attracted wealthy business people and high ranking public servants, with houses built to a high standard. menities such as churches and colleges were also provided in order to cater for the local population.
Mount Lawley is largely characterised by Federation and Colonial style dwellings with isolated examples of English Vernacular Revival, Art Deco and Californian Bungalow styles. The majority of houses are single detached dwellings on large lots. There are also some group and multiple unit developments dispersed throughout the suburb, particularly around Beaufort Street. Many of the older character homes are of heritage value, and are thus being renovated and preserved. The majority of homes are of brick construction.
Most retail development in Mount Lawley is situated on Beaufort Street, centering on the Walcott Street intersection. There are also several small local shops dispersed throughout the suburb to satisfy daily local needs. Recreation opportunities are provided by a number of small local parks and Inglewood Oval. Hamer Park offers facilities for lawn bowls and the park adjoining the Memorial Gardens contains tennis courts and another green for lawn bowls.
Mount Lawley hosts a wide range of education facilities. The area contains a campus of Edith Cowan University as well as the WA Academy of Performing Arts and the WA Conservatorium of Music. Mount Lawley Senior High School provides public secondary education and Perth College is a private school for girls. A TAFE campus is situated immediately south of the boundary of the City of Stirling