Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

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The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) is a member Institute of the School of Advanced Study of the University of London. Founded in 1947, it was conceived and funded as a national academic institution, attached to the University of London, serving all universities through its programmes, facilities and national legal research library.

The general purpose and scope of the Institute was proclaimed to be: "the focal point of legal research for the United Kingdom and the countries of the British Commonwealth."[1] From the beginning its foremost mission was to be a “national centre of legal research for the United Kingdom.”[2]

In addition to academic research and study, the Institute also hosts seminars and lectures, many of which are open to the public.

Since 1976, the Institute’s home has been Charles Clore House, located in the heart of Bloomsbury, at 17 Russell Square.


The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies was established in 1947 in response to recommendations made in 1932 by Lord Atkin [3] that the United Kingdom needed an institution “which would be a headquarters for academic research and would promote the advancement of knowledge of the law in the most general terms”.[4] On the 11th June 1948, the Institute was officially opened by the Lord Chancellor, William Jowitt, 1st Earl Jowitt as an Institute of the University of London. The first director was Professor Sir David Hughes Parry, a distinguished Professor of English Law at the London School of Economics and for many years Vice-Chancellor of the University of London. The Librarian, K Howard Drake also acted as administrative secretary for the Institute.

Charles Clore House at 17 Russell Square, London, the present home of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Housed at 25 Russell Square, the Institute occupied all floors of the building, the ground and first floors reserved for the library with rooms on the second and third converted into offices or study/seminar rooms. The library held 11,000 books in its first year, a substantial number donated by Dr Charles Huberich. An internal telephone system connected all the rooms with a hand book lift installed to move books from floor to floor."[5]

By 1949, the Institute was running out of space and were given permission to extend into the basement and ground floor 26 Russell Square. Here it remained until 1976 when the Institute moved into No. 17 Russell Square, part of the newly built Charles Clore House designed by Sir Denys Lasdun. At the official opening on 1st April 1976, the then Chancellor of the University of London, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother over stayed and her official schedule had to be abandoned.[6]

In 1994 the IALS became one of the member institutes of the School of Advanced Study.

The Institute is currently in the process of a five-year building refurbishment, the first phase of which was completed in September 2012, incorporates a larger café and improved lecture facilities on the ground floor.



The IALS library holds a collection of over 300,000 legal texts, complemented by over 3,000 current serial titles , reports and legislative materials.[7] It has been described as the "jewel in the Institute’s crown",[8] and is a repository library for legal texts published in the United Kingdom.[9] The library covers five floors of Charles Clore House with the library entrance on the fourth floor. The library catalogue forms part of a shared catalogue with its fellow School of Advanced Study Institutes and that of Senate House Library. The catalogue is hosted by Senate House Libraries and is freely available online.

The Institute library is in its entirety a research collection in law. It is considered one of the world’s leading comparative research libraries, holding significant material not otherwise available in the United Kingdom. Jurisdictions covered include countries in, North America, Latin America, Europe (including the European Union) and the Commonwealth. The library is particularly strong in Public International Law. It has a large collection of United States Federal primary and secondary resources and collections of State primary resources, focused on California, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Louisiana.[10]


Since the late 1990s IALS has participated in award-winning collaborative and standalone digital projects resulting in a number of searchable databases publicly available via the website. These include FLAG (Foreign Law Guides), FIT (Flare Index to Treaties), and Eagle-I, which builds upon the original Jisc funded Intute: Law project (formerly SOSIG Law).[11] [12]


IALS library has partnered other libraries and organisations in promotions and projects to highlight legal research. The library concentrates on printed and digital resources, often as lead developer for web-based initiatives. Ongoing collaborations with the British library and BAILII have led to increased web presence for legal research, with IALS hosting BAILII and supporting its role in providing free access to full text United Kingdom and Ireland Primary legal materials.[13] The Concordat with the British Library is a collaboration to map existing holdings in foreign legal materials in both libraries and collate information to form a national collection of foreign official gazettes.[14] Recently the library became a charter member of LLCM-Digital, a US-base consortium of libraries dedicated to the preservation of legal documentation for dissemination via a searchable online database.


The Institute actively promotes research by its own academic staff and students in conjunction with it role as a national legal research centre. Research centres at the Institute contribute to legal research via externally funded projects or study, with the Sir William Dale Centre, and Woolf Chair of Legal Education to the fore. High-impact areas of research conducted by the Institute include human rights in HIV and AIDS, international financial regulation, international and European interdisciplinary taxation law and practice.[15]

Through its association with the School of Advanced Studies, the Institute offers a number of fellowships for legal research to both national and international legal academics and practitioners. Fellows are encouraged to give lectures in their field of expertise during their tenure.

Postgraduate programmes[edit]

Since 2004, the Institute has offered postgraduate degrees (LLM or MA) in addition to its PhD and MPhil studies. Currently the Institute offers three programmes of study: LLM in Advanced Legislative Studies, LLM in International Corporate Governance, Financial Regulation and Economic Law and MA in Taxation. The taxation programme also offers the opportunity for students to study for either a postgraduate certificate or diploma in taxation.[16]

There are over 40 PhD or MPhil students studying at the Institute, in addition to postgraduate law students registered for LLM and MA courses. During the summer term, short courses are available. These include the Sir William Dale Centre course on Legislative Drafting and the Certificate in International Commercial Arbitration[17]

Lectures and presentations[edit]

The Institute has one main lecture theatre complemented by a number of smaller lecture/seminar rooms. Each year, it arranges workshops and lectures for academics and practitioners. Two annual conferences hosted by the IALS are the W. G. Hart Workshop and the Hamlyn Lectures series.


  1. ^ University of London. "Annual Report / Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. First Prospectus 1947/1948". p. 6. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Steiner, Wili. "The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies 1947-1976". p. 8. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  3. ^ University of London. "Annual Report / Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. First Prospectus 1947/1948". p. 7. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Great Britain. Committee on Legal Education. (1934). Report of the Legal education committee. London: H.M.S.O. p. 13. 
  5. ^ University of London. "Annual Report / Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. First Prospectus 1947/1948". p. 7. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "IALS Charles Clore House Opening Ceremony 1976". IALS Website. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "IALS Library - Collection Statistics". IALS Website. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  8. ^ University of London. Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Review Committee. (1999). Report of the Review Committee : to the Chairman of the Board, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. London: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. p. 46. 
  9. ^ Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (2008). "Library Collection and Retention Policy". IALS Website. London: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "IALS Library Research Guide - United States". IALS Website. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "IALL 2003 Website Award winner". IALL Website. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "Wallace Breem Memorial Award 2010 : Steven Whittle". BIALL website. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  13. ^ "About BAILII". BAILII website. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  14. ^ "FLARE Foreign Law Research". IALS website. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  15. ^ "IALS - Research and Education". IALs website. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  16. ^ "IALS Library - Admission Statistics". IALS website. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "Study at the IALS". IALS website. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°31′20″N 0°07′39″W / 51.5223°N 0.1274°W / 51.5223; -0.1274