In 1932 a Legal Education Committee under the Chairmanship of Lord Atkin was set up to consider the organisation of legal education in England and to make recommendations as to further provision for advanced research in legal studies. The Committee’s report in 1934 included a recommendation that an Institute of Advanced Legal Studies be established in London. In 1938 another Committee, chaired by Lord Macmillan, was set up to find a practical means of effecting this recommendation. The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) was established in 1946 as part of the University of London. Its aims were "the prosecution and promotion of legal research and the training of graduate students in its principles and methods" (39th Annual Report, 1985/86). Since its inception the scope of the Institute has expanded considerably, with sponsorship of and support for many research projects and the provision of facilities for other research bodies and for conferences, seminars and workshops. The Library provides facilities for academic and research staff and postgraduate research students from universities all over the world, and is one of the world's largest legal research libraries.
In 1994 IALS became a major component of the School of Advanced Study. The School was established in September 1994. Its fore runner was the University of London Institutes for Advanced Study. The School includes the Institutes of Advanced Legal Studies, Classical Studies, Commonwealth Studies, Germanic Studies, Historical Research, Latin American Studies, Romance Studies, United States Studies and the Warburg Institute. The School gives the Institutes a collective voice in the governance of the University of London, fosters the development of new activities and collective enterprises among Institutes and generally promotes efficiency and effectiveness in the Institutes' missions of supporting and developing research in the humanities and social sciences, nationally and internationally.
For a detailed description of the establishment and development of the Institute see the IALS First Prospectus, 1948, and Willi Steiner (former IALS Librarian), "The Establishment of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies of the University of London", IALS Bulletin no. 17, Apr 1994, pp. 6-20. The latter includes extensive references to published works and the minutes of the University of London Senate. A commemorative volume for the 50th anniversary of the Institute is currently in preparation.