On 4th September 2009 the newly formed Institute of Law launched its flagship professional course for some 40 students intending to qualify as advocates or solicitors of the Royal Court of Jersey. The Institute is a landmark development for the legal profession in Jersey, providing both a focus for the study and development of Jersey law, and promoting the continuance of Jersey's legal heritage. Its premises in Seale Street, St Helier, have also provided a long awaited venue within which to re-establish the law library of the Royal Court and the Law Society of Jersey, the largest law library in Jersey, which had been inaccessible in store for five years.
The principal object of the Institute, an independent not for profit body chaired by Sir Philip Bailhache, is 'to advance learning and knowledge by teaching and research'. The Institute is initially providing one course, the Jersey Law Course (JLS) which is designed primarily for those intending to qualify as advocates or solicitors of the Royal Court of Jersey. However, the Institute will have a wider influence in Jersey as this course, or individual modules within it, are accessible to people who have a personal interest in Jersey law, or where a deeper knowledge of law would be helpful in their careers.
The Institute has a number of plans for future expansion, including the development of the law library into a useful resource for researchers, and broadening into the undergraduate law market. A public consultation was launched in December 2009, with a view to the Institute becoming a 'supporting institution' and providing lectures and tutorials for students registered on the University of London external LLB degree.
The Institute intends to host seminars and conferences for academics, judges and practitioners, and has provisionally scheduled its first conference titled 'Channel Islands Contract Law at the Crossroads' for the summer of 2010. The provision of training, for which Continuous Professional Development (CPD) accreditation is being sought, and the promotion of research will undoubtedly facilitate further development of legal and business links with other small jurisdictions.
One further avenue of training relates to conveyancers in Jersey, with a working group having been set up to consider what educational provision could usefully be offered to complement their in house training. The working group has recently issued a Consultation Paper proposing a clearly structured route to an academic qualification.
In conclusion it is apparent that while the first JLS students are currently focused on their study guides and weekends, with the early July examination period fast approaching, the Institute is working equally hard to develop and expand to become an invaluable centre of the Jersey legal community.