History and Background
The Institute of Professional Legal Studies was established in 1977 at Queen's University Belfast. It provides an internationally recognised and unique one-year postgraduate course for trainee barristers and trainee solicitors who study together.
Committed to excellence since its inception, the Institute continually monitors and adjusts its performance, its courses and services to ensure its trainees receive the utmost quality. Over the years the Institute has modified the course to allow for greater and more structured integration of direct field experience. Today, the Institute's course is a central component of the overall training programme for lawyers. This programme comprises training in a vocational law school and supervised in-practice training.
The Council of Legal Education
Although the Institute is part of the University it has very important links with the two bodies which control the legal profession in Northern Ireland, namely the Honorable Society of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland and the Law Society of Northern Ireland. These bodies are responsible for the training and admission of barristers and solicitors respectively but have delegated part of that responsibility to the Institute. The Institute is therefore accountable to the professions as well as to the University. The cross-flow of information and discussion between the Institute and the legal profession is vital to the Institute's work and to the validation of our qualification.
The links between the two professional bodies, the University and the Institute are given a formal structure and forum in the Institute’s governing body, the Council of Legal Education. Under the Chairmanship of Mr Justice Weir, it is made up of representatives of the University, the Inn of Court, the Law Society and the Institute. At its meetings the Council ensures that the Institute is informed of the ever evolving needs and views of the profession it serves.