Origins of Current Legal Research Topics Database

Collation of Legal Research

During its first session of operations, 1947-1948, at the suggestion of Professor B.A. Wortley and with the concurrence of the Society of Public Teachers of Law (now the Society of Legal Scholars), the Institute began to undertake the collection and collation of particulars of legal research being carried on in Great Britain. Professor Wortley had been responsible for collecting such information for a number of years. The Institute planned to issue annually a list of topics and also to answer ad hoc questions about the topics being pursued.

At the start of the 1950s considerable progress was made in obtaining information about earlier legal research topics; and the Institute had full details of topics worked on since about 1935.

Typically in the early years a list would be compiled of over one hundred and four legal topics on which candidates for higher degrees in British Universities were then currently engaged. The main branches of law were: Public International law (31), Constitutional law (12) Conflict of Laws (10), Criminology (5), Administrative Law (4), Property Law (4) Legal History (3), Local Government (3), and Taxation (3).

It was notable that as the role of the Institute in collating this information became more widely known, the practice among law teachers of consulting the Institute before suggesting a research topic to students also increased.

At one stage arrangements were made for the noting of legal research being carried on in Commonwealth Universities.

Copies of the list of topics were sent out to Law Faculties in the United Kingdom and overseas, to teaching members of the Society of Public Teachers of Law and to others interested. Students undertaking research in these legal topics during this time were often registered at the Universities of: Aberdeen, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Nottingham, and Oxford. Many of those engaged on research in theses topics were known to have made use of the facilities at the Institute.

Legal research in the United Kingdom 1905-1984

Page last updated: 15th February 2016