Records of Legal Education Project

The Institute Library not only provides collections and research facilities for many academic researchers from universities around the UK and around the world, but is also involved in research itself. One past project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, led to the development of the Records of Legal Education Archive . You can search the RLEA archive catalogue on the shared Archives Database.

Legal education continues through a period of great change and reorientation and a clear and accurate memory of the past is vital to future direction. The Record of Legal Education Project sought to create a body of expertise and provide access to a unique resource, unpublished records of legal education.

The value of legal education records as a research resource and the need for further investigation was identified by the work of the Research Study on Legal Records of the Commonwealth conducted by Professor William Twining. Legal education in England and Wales has been conducted by a wide variety of private and official organisations. There was a wide range of uncoordinated material, some at risk, much unlisted. The assessment and documentation of existing records was a necessary step in making future research possible.

Funding for the project was provided by the Leverhulme Trust for a period of three years, ending in 1998. Research was concentrated on institutions in the London area where a high proportion of records are located.

The project aimed to:

  • to investigate records of legal education housed in selected institutions in the Greater London area and report on their availability, accessibility and significance;

  • with the co-operation of those institutions which house records, to create a union list so that researchers will be able to trace the location of documents of relevance;

  • to identify and accommodate, in a Legal Education Archive housed at IALS, appropriate records from associations and individuals which have no institutional home, are not available to researchers and may be at risk;

  • when requested to offer advice on records management and disposal to associations, institutions and individuals; to publish and disseminate its findings;

  • to seek to form a group of records holders to monitor records and update the union list after the conclusion of the project.
    Clare Cowling, an Archivist who was based part-time in the IALS Library, co-ordinated the project under the direction of an Advisory Committee comprising Jules Winterton, Librarian of IALS, Avrom Sherr, Woolf Professor of Legal Education at IALS, David Sugarman, Professor of Law at the University of Lancaster and William Twining, Quain Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London. The Records of Legal Education Archive held at the Institute Library contains a variety of records from such Institutions as the Association of Law Teachers, Committee of Heads of University Law Schools, the Commonwealth Legal Education Association, the Society of Public Teachers of Law and the Socio-Legal Studies Association among others.

The resulting Records of legal Education Archive is based at the Library of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, building on the Institute's unique place in legal research.

Supervision of Research use of the Archives

Access to the Archives is by prior appointment. (Email: or telephone 020 7862 5790). Most records are open for consultation but some restrictions have been placed on access to material as specified by depositors.

Page last updated: 30th August 2017