Source Information UK and Commonwealth, Law Examination Records, 1836-1947 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2022.
Original data: The Law Society: Examination Records 1836-1984. London, England: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.

About UK and Commonwealth, Law Examination Records, 1836-1947

General collection information

This collection contains registers of individuals who sat for their law exams in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth between 1836 and 1947. Most of the records in this collection are hand-written in pre-printed ledgers; however, some may be written in preprinted formats. All records are in English.

Using the collection

Records in the collection may include the following information:

  • Name
  • Age at time of examination
  • Residence
  • Employer's name
  • Employer's residence
  • Examination date
  • Examination location
  • Language examination given in
  • Records may also include additional information, such as a list of courses taken or examination grades.

    While all records are in English, law students were often tested in other languages. Tests may have been conducted in Latin, Greek, Modern Greek, French, German, Spanish, or Italian and records may include notes on which language was used.

    While most of the records in the collection are for men, women are also included in the collection; starting in 1922, women were able to become solicitors.

    Collection in context

    In 1292, Edward I instructed the judges of the bench to find and train students from each county in the ways of the courts. Education was based in Westminster and consisted of attending and discussing trials. As a result of living and working in Westminster, students began to meet up at shared dwelling houses to attend lectures by experienced litigators. These lectures were known as the Inns of the Court which became the roots of a formal legal profession. By the late 16th century, the Inns of the Court began to decline.

    By 1729, legal education was conducted by apprenticeship which required candidates to first spend five years of experience in a legal office. As a result, legal education tended to be based on wealth and family status rather than academic success.

    William Blackstone was appointed the first law professor in 1758 at Oxford University, which laid the groundwork for modern legal education. In 1846, the Parliamentary Investigating Committee began the process of reforming the legal education system, however; progress was slow. The General Council of the Bar, also known as the Bar Council was officially formed in 1894, which acts as a body of regulation for barristers.


    Bar Council of India. "Brief History of Legal Education in the UK." Last Modified 2022.

    Krook, Joshua. "A History of Law Schools: A Battle Between Law as a Science and Law as a Liberal Art." new Intrigue. Last Modified February 21, 2018.