The original Institute of Advanced Legal Studies premises at 25, Russell Square were opened on 11th June 1948 by the Lord Chancellor, Viscount Jowitt - supported by leading members of the University and many distinguished members of the legal profession.
The guests were received by Lord Macmillan, who later presided over the ceremony in the Beveridge Hall. In his introductory remarks, Lord Macmillan outlined the history of the idea of an institute of advanced legal studies and indicated the part such an institute should play in legal education.
The Lord Chancellor expressed his pleasure at the foundation of the Institute and emphasised the value of legal research in all branches of the law. Viscount Jowitt gave a historical address on the system of the trial of peers by peers which was then about to be abolished by the Criminal Justice Act 1948.
25 Russell Square, the house placed at the disposal of the Institute by the University, was built during the Napoleonic Wars. Most of the rooms available on the ground and first floors were devoted to the main sections of the Library. The rooms on the second and third floors were used as offices, and students' typing, study and seminar rooms. A hand book lift was installed so that books could be moved easily from floor to floor. All rooms were connected by an internal telephone system. Indicating its proximity to the British Museum and scholarly resources in Bloomsbury, the Institute's telephone number at 25 Russell Square was MUSeum 3232.
With the rapid expansion of the Institute's Library, the shelf space available in No.25 Russell Square became fully occupied during 1949. The age and condition of the house had also restricted library shelving to outside walls. To meet the extra need the University placed at the disposal of the Institute the ground floor and basement of the adjoining house, No. 26 Russell Square. The adaptation of the ground and basement floors of No. 26 as additional premises for the Institute was completed during the early part of the 1949-1950 Session.
Read more about the early years of IALS at 25 and 26 Russell Square in the History of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies 1947-1976 by Willi Steiner (pdf).