History of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS)

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies was founded in 1947. It was conceived and is funded as a national academic institution, attached to the University of London, serving all universities through its programmes, facilities and national legal research library. Its function is to promote, facilitate and disseminate the results of advanced study and research in the discipline of law, for the benefit of persons and institutions in the UK and abroad.

The general aims and objects of the Institute were from the beginning proclaimed to be:

the prosecution and promotion of legal research and training of graduate students in its principles and methods

The idea of a national Institute, housing what is our national law library, with a brief to promote and facilitate research in law at an advanced level, both nationally and internationally, can be traced back to a speech delivered in Lincoln's Inn, by the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Russell of Killowen, on 28 October 1895 in which he called for an initiative to establish such an institution.

The seeds that Lord Russell and others planted grew towards the idea of creating an institute of advanced legal research. The appointment in August 1932 by the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Sankey, of an expert committee on Legal Education under Lord Atkins was a key moment towards making the idea a reality. This important committee was charged to consider not only the organisation of legal education but also "further provision for advanced research in legal studies".

The committee discovered considerable support in the academic world (particularly from the Society of Public Teachers in Law - SPTL) and also within the professions for the establishment of "an institution which would be a headquarters for academic research and would promote the advancement of knowledge of law in the most general terms" and in particular on a comparative basis.

Page last updated: 13th July 2021