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Council of Legal Education Archive

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1697 A.CLE
Held at: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
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Full title: Council of Legal Education Archive
Date(s): 1845-1997
Level of description: Sub-fonds of Records of Legal Education Archives
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Extent: 57 boxes, 111 volumes, 69 folders
Name of creator(s): Council of Legal Education
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical 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 QC (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 retitled 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/abstract:

The Archive of the Council of Legal Education consists of 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.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged in series as in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Access is open to most papers over 30 years old.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Many of the CLE's minute books and volumes of documents are in a fragile condition and therefore may not be photocopied.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue available at the IALS and on-line at

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The remaining archive of the CLE was transferred to the Records of Legal Education Archives by ICBET in 1997.

Allied Materials

Related material:

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 also 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.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

An administrative history of the CLE was compiled by Mrs Rebecca Walker in 2000; it is expected that this history will be published as an IALS paper. For further information contact the IALS Archivist.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Annabel Dodds for the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Rules or conventions:
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.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Aug 2000

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