Legal Wales has its origin in the creation of the devolved government of Wales by the Government of Wales Act 1998 following the approval in a referendum of the proposals set out in the White Paper “A Voice for Wales”.
The response of the legal community in Wales to the advent of devolution can be dated from a seminar at Cardiff University in April 1999 organised by Cardiff University and the Wales and Chester Circuit. At about the same time several legal societies came into being, among them Public Law Wales, Wales Commercial Law Association and the Welsh Legal History Society.
The first Counsel General for Wales, Winston Roddick CB, QC, saw a need to bring together all the legal constituencies in Wales to meet the challenges and take up the opportunities presented by the new constitutional settlement.
With the encouragement of the then Senior Presiding Judge in Wales, Mr Justice Thomas (subsequently Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd LCJ), the Counsel General inaugurated a body that would bring together the legal community in Wales to engage with the development of the new Welsh legal identify which he described as “Legal Wales”.
In 2003 the first Legal Wales Conference was held at Cardiff University and it has since become an annual event which is a focus for the legal year in Wales.
From time to time, Legal Wales organises occasions that bring together the whole Welsh legal community. One of these was held to mark the first sitting in Wales of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in Cardiff in July 2019, when Legal Wales hosted a lecture on the Laws of Hywel Dda in the presence of an audience of junior lawyers and the Justices of the Supreme Court.
In 2020 Legal Wales organised for the first time a fully funded Access to Law Summer Scheme intended to allow learners with no connections with, and little or no experience of, the law to experience what is it that lawyers do, so that they may be better placed to decide whether a career in the law may be for them.