The Stair Society was founded in 1934 to encourage the study and advance the knowledge of the history of Scots Law by the publication of original documents and by the reprinting and editing of works of sufficient rarity or importance.

The Society, a registered charity, has produced over 60 volumes, aiming to publish a volume each year (although this is not guaranteed). Some of these are of antiquarian interest, while others are of wider intellectual and historical significance.

Membership is open to all with an interest in the history of Scots law, in the UK or abroad. Our members include practising lawyers, legal academics, law students, and a wide range of academic and professional institutions, libraries and law firms.

Latest news

AGM and Annual Lecture 19 November 2016 -
Professor John W.Cairns, 'Reforming Legal Education in Edinburgh: Roman Law, 1792-1800'.
Legal Papers of James Boswell: New Stair Society Volume Published -
We are delighted to announce the publication of our 63rd Volume, the second volume of The Legal Papers of James Boswell edited and annotated by Boswell expert Hugh M. Milne.

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Annual Lecture 2016

The Stair Society's AGM and Annual Lecture for 2016 will be on Saturday 19 November at 11:30 a.m. in the Mackenzie Building, Old Assembly Close, Edinburgh, by courtesy of the Faculty of Advocates.

The Annual Lecture will be delivered by John W. Cairns, Professor of Civil Law in the University of Edinburgh, formerly Professor of Legal History there and the Society’s Chairman of Council from 1999 to 2015.

Professor Cairns' title is 'Reforming Legal Education in Edinburgh: Roman Law, 1792-1800'. In the last twenty years of the eighteenth century, in the late enlightenment, legal education in Edinburgh underwent considerable change. Crucial appointments to the four chairs of law re-oriented legal education in the university along essentially Smithian lines. One fascinating development was the teaching of John Wilde. A brilliant man, Wilde had a tragic life; but his innovations in teaching Roman law were of great importance.

For members of the Faculty of Advocates, the lecture has been approved for 1 hour’s CPD.