The ELSA Lawyers Society is the alumni association of ELSA. ELSA was founded on May 4th 1981 in Vienna by students from Poland, Austria, Hungary and West Germany. The idea was to promote international contacts and mutual understanding among law students on both sides of the iron curtain.
ELSA expanded fast and more and more students from all over Europe worked together and became friends. But their membership in ELSA was limited as ELSA is a students’ association.
During the 10th anniversary of ELSA in 1991, celebrated at its birthplace in Vienna, the ELSA Lawyers Society was founded. Andy Unger (UK), the first president of the ELS described the reason for the foundation: “The best thing about ELSA is travel and friendship and when you retire from ELSA you miss that a lot. That is why we decide to form ELS – so we could carry on seeing each other and help ELSA too.”
In 1995 ELS was registered as a “ideell Föreningar” in the home country of the then ELS president Martin Johanson. Already from the very beginning ELS published a directory for its members. For a long time it existed as a printed pocket-size publication and went online in 2005.
ELS supports ELSA. When ELSA established its International Trainers’ Pool at the end of the 90’s a significant number of trainers were members of ELS – and still are. In 2000 ELS initiated a programme to support ELSA members financially in participating at the International Council Meetings of ELSA. In the meantime ELS has supported almost 100 students from all over Europe with this scholarship programme.
In 2001 ELSA and ELS celebrated their anniversaries together in Vienna. More than 700 students and lawyers celebrated the 10th anniversary of ELS and 20th anniversary of ELSA.
The next years ELS provided possibilities for its members to participate in various events: The Queens Day in Amsterdam, the Oktoberfest in Munich or the Gala Ball in Vienna. Attempts were made to establish professional mailing lists and benefits for lawyers.
The 25th anniversary of ELSA and the 15th anniversary of ELS were celebrated in London. ELSA faced some problems to organise the event and with the help of ELS members the birthdays of both association could be celebrated in an adequate way.
The last years showed growing activities of national alumni groups. Former ELSA members always tried to stay in touch on a national level and in the second half of the 2000 years more and more national alumni groups established legal entities and started cooperating with ELS.
The 20th anniversary of ELSA and the 30th anniversary of ELSA were celebrated in Poznan, Poland. More than 150 alumni came from all over the world, including the Untied States and South Africa, and ELS presented the anniversary publication “Building a just world”.