The origins of The Legal Education Foundation date back to the 1870s. Originally operating as a law tutorial firm under the name Gibson and Weldon, in 1962 the business was merged with The Law Society School of Law to form a charity, The College of Law. In 1975, the College was awarded a Royal Charter. Its Object is,
"To promote the advancement of legal education and the study of law in all its branches"
Over the years, the College developed its law courses for the Solicitors and Barristers professional examinations, an undergraduate law degree, a master’s degree and post qualification training for lawyers. It opened Centres throughout England to meet the demand for its courses and also created a number of distance learning courses. By 2011, the College was delivering a full range of legal education courses to over 7,500 students a year at eight Centres across England.
Following a Strategic Review concluding in 2012, the Governors of the College decided to sell the education and training business and to devote the monies generated by the sale to endow the organisation as a Foundation. The £200 million net proceeds from the sale have been invested with the Foundation distributing the return on these investments through grants and commissions.
At the time of the sale the charity received permission from the Privy Council to change its name from The College of Law to The Legal Education Foundation. Its purpose remains "to promote the advancement of legal education and the study of the law in all its branches". The Foundation does this by making grants to a wide variety of mostly charitable organisations working in different social, professional and academic settings and by commissioning research.