University of Law

The University of Law
Former names
The College of Law (1962-2012)
Motto Leges Juraque Cognoscamus
Motto in English
May we learn the laws and ordinances
Type Private, for-profit
Established 1962 (1962)
Chancellor Dame Fiona Woolf, DBE, JP
President Lord Baron Grabiner, QC
Vice-Chancellor Andrea Nollent
Students approx. 16000
Undergraduates approx. 6600
Postgraduates approx. 9400
Location Birmingham, Bristol, Chester, Guildford, Leeds, London (Bloomsbury and Moorgate), and Manchester, England
Campus Urban
Owner Global University Systems

The University of Law (ULaw) (formerly the College of Law) is a for-profit, private university in the United Kingdom, providing law degrees, specialist legal training, and continuing professional development courses for British barristers and solicitors. Founded in 1962 as the College of Law, it is the UK's largest law school.[1] The College of Law was granted degree-awarding powers in 2006, and in 2012 it became the UK's first for-profit educational institution to be granted university status.[2][3][4] ULaw has eight branches across England.

The College of Law had been incorporated by royal charter as a charity in 1975, but in 2012, prior to the granting of university status, its educational and training business was split off and incorporated as a private limited company.[5] This became the College of Law Ltd and later University of Law Ltd. The charitable branch, which remained incorporated by the 1975 royal charter, became the Legal Education Foundation.[6] Shortly after the granting of university status in 2012, College of Law Ltd. was bought by Montagu Private Equity.[7] Three years later Montagu sold the University of Law to its present owner, the Netherlands-based company Global University Systems.[8]

The university's alumni and staff include many UK Members of Parliament and chief justices.


20th century

Coat of arms of the former College of Law

The Law Society of England and Wales created the College of Law in 1962 by merging its own solicitors' training school with the tutorial firm Gibson and Weldon.[9] The college was created in its legal form by Royal Charter on 5 December 1975.[10] It was registered as a charity on 24 May 1976 with the aim "to promote the advancement of legal education and the study of law in all its branches".[10] Until the transfer of its training business to College of Law Ltd. 2012, the College of Law was in the top 100 of UK charities ranked by expenditure.[11]

Following the recommendations of the Ormrod Report on the reform of legal education in England and Wales, the Law Society submitted proposals in 1975 for a 36-week Final Examination course for aspiring solicitors and a Common Professional Examination (CPE) or law conversion course for non-law graduates to be taught at the College of Law. The first CPE was held in 1978. The number of institutions approved to deliver the CPE gradually increased until by 2006 the BPP Law School and 27 universities, most of them former polytechnics, were also running the course.[12][13][14] However, the leading providers of the CPE (now called the Graduate Diploma in Law) remained the College of Law and BPP Law School whose enrollments still "dwarfed" those of the universities in 2010.[15]

In the 1980s, The Law Society asked the college to produce a scheme for additional tuition in accounts for articled clerks (now trainee solicitors), combining distance learning with one-day's attendance at lectures. Further distance learning courses were developed in a partnership with the Open University beginning in 1998.[16] The Guildford branch of the college also established the Fresh Start distance learning course for solicitors returning to practice after a career break or those wishing to change their specialisation.[17]

The 1990s saw a major change in the relationship between the Law Society and the College of Law. In 1994 Nigel Savage, then the dean of Nottingham Trent University's law school, called for a review of the link between the college and the Law Society which had eight of its council members on the college's board of governors. Savage suggested that this gave the college an unfair advantage in recruiting students to the Legal Practice Course which had been set up the Law Society in 1993 to replace the Final Examination course. The society also regulated the course and determined which institutions would receive a licence to deliver it. He proposed that the college should either "come clean" about the relationship and declare itself the official college of the Law Society or sever the link and become completely independent.[18] The college subsequently severed the link, and the Law Society stopped appointing college governors. Savage went on to become the president and CEO of the College of Law in 1996 and served in that capacity for the next 18 years.[19][20]

21st century

The Bristol campus

The College of Law established pro bono clinics, with students undertaking legal advice work for free supervised by the college's lecturers. In March 2015 the University of Law (as the college is now called) obtained an alternative business structure licence, allowing it to expand its legal advice clinics.[21][22] It also restructured its Legal Practice Courses to give students more choice and won contracts to develop law firm-specific LPC programmes for three magic circle firms – Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Linklaters. However, by the end of 2014, it had retained only Linklaters, having lost the contracts with Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance who moved to BPP Law School.[23]

The college was granted degree-awarding powers by the Privy Council in 2006, leading to development of its Bachelor and Master of Laws degree programmes.[2] The London Moorgate centre was also opened that year. According to the University of Law, the Moorgate centre is the UK's largest corporate-specific law school.[24]

Logo while known as the College of Law and first used in this form in 2011[25]

In 2012, the College of Law underwent a major restructuring. College of Law Ltd. was created as a private limited company to take on its educational and training business. The parent charity changed its name to the Legal Education Foundation. In April of that year Montagu Private Equity agreed to buy College of Law Ltd. for approximately £200 million.[26] On 22 November 2012, it was announced that the college had been granted full university status and its name would be changed to "University of Law". Shortly thereafter, Montague Private Equity completed the acquisition process. This raised questions about the legality of transferring the degree-awarding powers granted under royal charter to the original College of Law to the newly created company, and then selling that company, now with University status, to a for-profit provider. The UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills explained that while degree-awarding powers cannot be transferred, when a whole institute changes its legal status the powers remain with it. This was considered to be the case with University of Law because all of the original College of Law's education and training business had been transferred to the for-profit college, and the activities remaining with the chartered body were not related to the degree-awarding powers.[7] Dame Fiona Woolf was named the newly created university's first chancellor in 2013.[27]

The university began selling off its property portfolio on a leaseback basis in 2014, starting with the four buildings of its Bloomsbury campus. According to analysis of the university's accounts earlier that year by the Times Higher Education Supplement, the purchase by Montagu Private Equity in 2012 had loaded the university with £177m of debt.[28] Critics had compared the purchase by Montagu Private Equity to the leveraged buyouts of Premier League clubs in English football. At the time, the University of Law's ultimate parent company was L-J Holdco Ltd. which was incorporated in Guernsey and majority owned by Montagu-managed funds.[29]

In June 2015 Montagu Private Equity sold the university to Global University Systems (GUS) for an undisclosed sum. Former UK Education and Employment Secretary and Home Secretary David Blunkett, at the time a visiting lecturer at the London School of Business and Finance (also owned by Global University Systems), was named Chairman of the Board.[8] GUS began a programme of restructuring its UK holdings with the intention of making the University of Law the company's sole provider of academic qualifications and professional qualifications, including the master's degrees previously offered by the London School of Business and Finance.[30] The University of Law announced the launch of its De Broc School of Business in July 2015 but had to defer the first intake of students (originally planned for September of that year) due to low student recruitment.[31][lower-alpha 1]

The summer of 2015 also saw a restructuring of the university's governance. The provost, Andrea Nollent, also assumed the role of Chief Academic Officer. John Latham, who had been its CEO and president since 2014 and had overseen the sale of the University of Law to Global University Systems, resigned by "mutual consent". The office of president became a non-executive position and was assumed by Lord Grabiner. David Johnston, the former Chief Operating Officer, took over as CEO. Johnston was subsequently replaced as CEO by economist Stelios Platis in April 2016.[33][34][35]


In the 2014 National Student Survey, the university was jointly classified with University of Exeter, University of East Anglia and University of Buckingham as the UK's second most successful university in terms of student ratings, with a learner satisfaction level of 92%.[36][lower-alpha 2] The courses offered by the university (as of 2016) include:[37]

The Open University's courses in Law (including the LL.B by distance learning) are offered in association with the University of Law. However, the Open University announced in a 2013 press release that this partnership was being phased out and would end completely in 2018.[16] In 2015, the university also established a one-year foundation programme for international students wishing to progress to undergraduate legal study in the UK.[38]

Notable alumni

Notable alumni and staff of the University of Law include:


  1. The new business school's name was taken from Ralph de Broc, the 12th-century owner of Braboeuf Manor, now the site of the university's Guildford branch.[32]
  2. The Times Higher Education rankings excluded small and specialist institutions.


  1. Tam , Robert (3 July 2013). "Why UK legal education is falling short in a globalised world". The Guardian: Higher Education Network Blog
  2. 1 2 Times Higher Education (12 May 2006). "College of Law to offer degrees". Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  3. Paton, Graeme (22 November 2012). "Britain's first profit-making university opened". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
  4. Morgan, John (22 November 2012). "College of Law becomes UK's first for-profit university". Times Higher Education. TES Global. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  5. "The University of Law Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  6. "About The Legal Education Foundation". Legal Education Foundation. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  7. 1 2 John Morgan (29 November 2012). "Transfer of powers: legal question hangs over University of Law". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  8. 1 2 Morgan, John (2 June 2015). "University of Law sold to Global University Systems". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  9. Jackson, Richard Meredith and Spencer, J. R. (1989). Jackson's Machinery of Justice, p. 346. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521317673
  10. 1 2 "Charity Commission Profile". Charity Commission. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  11. "The Top 500 Charities". Charities Direct. Archived from the original on 19 November 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  12. Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library. Council of Legal Education Archive: A.CLE 59: Common Professional Examination Board Records, 1973-1981. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
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  14. Kogan Page editorial staff (2006), British Qualifications: A Complete Guide to Professional, Vocational and Academic Qualifications in the UK. (36th edition), p. 960. Kogan Page Publishers. ISBN 0749444835
  15. Boon, Andrew and Whyte, Avis (2010). "Students as Stakeholders in the Legal Academy", p. 221. in Fiona Cownie (ed.) Stakeholders in the Law School. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 1847315585
  16. 1 2 Open University (6 June 2013). "The OU Law School and The University of Law pursue expansion opportunities". Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  17. (1996). Returning to Work: A Directory of Education and Training for Women, p. 17. Sage. ISBN 1446235793
  18. Times Higher Education Supplement (27 January 1995). "Row over College of Law tie".
  19. Abel, Richard L. (2003). English Lawyers Between Market and State: The Politics of Professionalism, p. 108. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198260334
  20. Newman, Alex (6 February 2014). "Nigel Savage to retire from University of Law in April". Legal Week. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  21. Keenan, Denis J. and Smith, Kenneth (2007). Smith & Keenan's English Law: Text and Cases, p. 111. Pearson Education. ISBN 1405846186
  22. Rogerson, Paul (4 May 2015). "Profits surge at University of Law" Law Society Gazette
  23. Kalia, Jaishree (2 June 2015). "Having lost two Magic Circle clients, University of Law sold to GUS less than three years after purchase". Legal Business. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  24. University of Law. The University of Law London Moorgate. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  25. (archived version of 16 May 2011) and (archived version of 7 July 2011). Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  26. Rayner, Jonathan (17 April 2012). "College of Law sold in £200m private equity deal". The Law Society Gazette
  27. Baksi, Catherine (11 November 2013). "Woolf is University of Law's first chancellor". Law Society Gazette. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  28. Staff Reporter (18 December 2014). "University of Law eyes property sales". The Law Society Gazette.
  29. John Morgan, "For-profit won the title (and a 'Premier League’'debt to boot)", Times Higher Education, No. 2, 150, 1–7 May 2014, p. 6.
  30. Custer, Sara (25 September 2015). "Global University Systems to restructure". The Pie (Professionals in International Education). Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  31. QAA (October 2015). Specific Course Designation: Report of the monitoring visit of The University of Law. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  32. Vit, Armin (15 July 2015). "For Those About to DeBroc". Brand New. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  33. McCannn, Kathryn (5 August 2015). "University of Law brings in Lord Grabiner as president following chief exec's departure". Legal Business. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  34. West, Michael (4 August 2015). "ULaw's chief exec departs as university woos students with job guarantee". Legal Business. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  35. Farman, Madeleine (25 April 2016). "University of Law appoints third chief executive in a year". Legal Business. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  36. Jack Grove (12 August 2014). "National Student Survey 2014 results show record levels of satisfaction". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  37. University of Law. Postgraduate courses; Undergraduate courses; Professional development courses. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  38. Hyde, John (27 March 2015). "University of Law granted ABS status to offer legal services". Law Society Gazette. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  39. Harvard Kennedy School. Faculty: Jacqueline Bhabha. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
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  50. London School of Economics (24 July 2012). Public Lectures: Britain should stay in the European Union. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
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