Council of Legal Education Archive

[See PDF Series List]


Archive Reference: CLE  
Title: Council of Legal Education Archive
Dates: 1852-1997
Level of description: collection (fonds)
Extent and medium: 57 archive boxes, 111 volumes, 69 folders
Name of creator: Council of Legal Education
Catalogue last updated: June 2020  


Administrative history: the Council of Legal Education (CLE) was established by Resolutions of the Inns of Court in 1852, following the recommendation that year of a Legal Education Committee of the Four Inns.  The CLE, consisting of eight members under the Chairmanship of Richard Bethell Q.C. (later Lord Westbury), was entrusted with the power and duty of superintending the education and examination of students who had been admitted to the Inns and was to consist of an equal number of Benchers appointed by each of the Inns.  Five Readerships or Professorships were set up, to each deliver three courses of lectures per year.  Students were required to attend a certain number of lectures and to pass public examinations.  The examinations were held thrice yearly, in Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity terms.  The CLE was given the power to grant dispensations to students unable to attend all required lectures.

In 1872 membership of the Council was increased from eight to twenty and a compulsory examination for Call to the Bar was introduced.  A further recommendation was made that the Council appoint a Committee of its members to be called the Committee of Education and Examination; this Committee later became the Board of Studies.  A Director of Legal Studies was appointed in 1905.
The constant increase in the number of students and consequent growth in the CLE's activities led to the Council's decision in 1915 to appoint a permanent Finance (later Finance and Administration) Committee for the regulation of its expenditure and in 1916 to create the post of Council Secretary.
The CLE initially met in the Library of Lincoln's Inn.  In 1903 it moved to 15 Old Square, Lincoln's Inn, where it remained until 1947.  The CLE then moved to 7 Stone Buildings, where it was able to provide lecture rooms, common and reading room accommodation and canteen facilities for students.  In 1964 the CLE gained the first home for law teaching with premises in Gray's Inn, donated by the Inn.  In 1967 the Inns of Court School of Law (ICSL) was formally established on the site; it became an incorporated body in 1996.

In 1967, as a consequence of the institution of the Senate of the Inns of Court as a central body to represent the Inns, the CLE was reconstituted under regulation of the Senate, which now appointed the Chairman and five other representatives of Council, and which had general policy-making powers.  For the first time the CLE had representatives from the Bar Council as well as from the Inns.  A new system of education and training, drawn up by the CLE in 1967, was approved by the Senate, to take effect from 1969.  This included the appointment of a professional law teacher as Dean of Faculty (later re-titled Dean of ICSL), replacing the old position of Director of Legal Studies, and the inauguration of new practical training programmes.

In 1974, following the recommendations of the Pearce and Templeman Committee, a new body, the Senate of the Inns of Court and the Bar, was set up.  The CLE was reconstituted under the Regulations of the new Senate, and its membership and functions redefined. 

During the 1970s the CLE faced the major task of implementing the recommendations of the Ormrod Report (of the Lord Chancellor's Committee on Legal Education) and the Cross Committee (Advisory Committee on Legal Education) relating to graduate entry to the profession, and the transfer of Part 1 teaching to the universities and polytechnics.

The CLE continued to oversee legal education for the Bar until 1997. In that year the CLE transferred most of its responsibilities and assets to the ICSL.  Its responsibility for supporting education and training for the Bar was passed to a new body, the Inns of Court and Bar Educational Trust (ICBET), while its regulatory function was passed to the General Council of the Bar.  In 1997 the CLE ceased to operate.  


Scope and content: Please note that the CLE archives does not hold any examination results post 1957.  Requests for results after this date should be addressed to the Bar Council.

The archive of the Council of Legal Education comprises: minutes and papers of Committees of the Inns of Court, 1845-1962; minutes of proceedings of the Council of Legal Education, 1852-1997; duplicate minutes of Council meetings, 1856-1864; Council agenda, minutes and papers, 1968-1997; Consolidated Regulations of the Four Inns of Court, 1852-1995; printed documents, 1852-1933; cash books, 1852-1915; records of vouchers for payments, 1864-1912; CLE payments by the Inns of Court, 1879-1912; ledger, lecture payments, 1897-1915; examinations performance records, 1861-1957; CLE letter book, 1866-1867; minute book of the Committee of the CLE on Education and Examinations, 1872-1881; Annual Reports, 1893-1967; CLE calendars, 1901-1992; draft joint report on Clifford's Inn and the sale of New Inn, 1902; register of attendance at periodic lectures, 1903-1922; minute books of the Board of Studies, 1907-1995; Board of Studies agenda, minutes and papers, 1968-1996; exemption cases books, 1927-1951; minute books of the Finance (later Finance and Administration) Committee, 1915-1997; duplicate Finance Committee minute book, 1945-1950; Finance (later Finance and Administration) Committee agenda, minutes and papers, 1968-1996; Finance Committee correspondence and papers, 1942-1971; New Inn and Common Fund abstracts of accounts, 1905-1940; New Inn Fund ledgers, 1915-1965; New Inn Fund cash book, 1916-1952; Common Fund ledgers, 1915-1961; Common Fund cash books, 1924-1950; petty cash book, 1927-1942; audit book, 1945-1964; submissions for payment book, 1948-1959; House Committee minute book, 1949-1951; income and expenditure books, 1950-1980; income and expenditure books, itemised accounts, 1969-1984; account book, special accounts, 1969-1980; payroll books, 1970-1984; audited annual accounts, 1971-1995; historical files, teaching and examinations, 1906-1967; historical files, CLE history and students, 1937-1984; historical files, miscellaneous reports and papers, 1951-1989; historical files, memoranda and reports on legal education, 1969-1984; historical files, miscellaneous correspondence, 1966-1986; Chairman's correspondence, 1967-1973; Dean of Faculty's correspondence, [1960]-1991; Dean's general correspondence and papers, 1980-1981; Dean's overseas correspondence, 1959-1994; Dean's correspondence with university law schools, 1972-1991; Dean's correspondence and papers relating to financial matters, 1973-1995; Special Committee on Legal Education/Legal Education Sub-committee records, 1962-1970; records relating to the Post Final Practical Training Course (PFPTC), 1950-1966; records relating to changes in part 1 of the Bar examinations, 1963-1966; examination papers, 1970-1991; Students' Welfare Committee records, 1967-1980; student appeals files (sample cases only), 1969-1982; report to the Inns of Court and the Council of the Law Society on the education of the two branches of the legal profession and easier transfer between them (Diplock Report), 1965; papers relating to the Report of the Lord Chancellor's Committee on Legal Education (Ormrod Committee), 1966-1975; Advisory Committee on Legal Education papers, 1972-1990; Common Professional Education Board records, 1973-1981; Incorporation Sub-committee records, 1970; submissions and papers relating to the Royal Commission on Legal Services (Benson Commission), 1976-1980; Practical Exercise Sub-committee (Potter Committee) papers, 1985-1988; Curriculum Development Working Party records, 1987-1990; Bar Vocational Course papers, 1989-1996; Bar Examination Staff Working Party records, 1991-1993; Further Education and Training for the Bar Working Party (Phillips Working Party) records, 1992-1994; papers relating to racial discrimination complaints, 1989-1996; Discrimination Awareness Group records, 1992-1995; papers relating to the CLE response to the Committee of Inquiry into Equal Opportunities on the Bar Vocational Course (Barrow Inquiry), 1992-1993; papers relating to the restructuring of the CLE, 1992-1996.


Language/scripts of material: English 
System of arrangement: Refer to individual series descriptions.
Conditions governing access:  Open to most papers over 30 years old other than papers relating to the Barrow report at CLE 69, which are closed for 50 years in line with the closure period for the Barrow collection, and CLE 55 and CLE 68 which are closed for 75 years as they contain personal data.  

Applications by bona fide researchers for accelerated access should be addressed to the Chair of the Trustees, The Inns of Court and Bar Educational Trust (ICBET); 9 Gray’s Inn Square, London WC1R 5JF, giving reasons for the request.
Conditions governing reproduction: copies of material may be made for private use.  Requests for permission to publish any material copied or extracts thereof should be made to the copyright holder.  A Copyright Declaration – request for copies or a  Copyright Declaration - self service photography form must be completed. 
Many of the CLE's minute books and volumes of documents are in a fragile condition and therefore may not be photocopied.

Copyright: Vested in the University of London for the period of the loan.  


Archival history: The surviving archive of the CLE, other than student records, was transferred to the Records of Legal Education Archives (now subsumed into the IALS Archives) by ICBET in 1997.

Immediate source of acquisition: A file detailing the transfer and terms of deposit is held in the Records of Legal Education Project collection at RLEP 8/4.   
Terms of deposit: Deposited on permanent loan in 1998.
Accruals: No further accruals are expected.


Related material held elsewhere: The CLE's surviving student records, dating from the 1930s, are at the time of writing in the custody of the General Council of the Bar.

There is a considerable quantity of information on the CLE in the archives of the four Inns of Court, including correspondence with the CLE, copies of the CLE's reports to the Inns, examination papers and results, and CLE certificates.  The Middle Temple Archives, for example, holds Council of Legal Education accounts, reports, registers and other papers, 1853-1968 and Bar examination papers and results, 1852-2001.


Archivist's note

Rules or conventions: Original catalogue compiled in 1998 by Clare Cowling, Archivist.  It was updated in 2020 by Clare Cowling.

The catalogue has been compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.


Page last updated: 5th July 2021

IALS Library