The Middle Temple Law Library is the second law library we got the chance to visit and was very interesting. The library is located next to a Knights Templar Church (can you say Da Vinci Code?). It was really interesting to see a bit of how the legal system in the United Kingdom works by visiting this library. It was a little difficult to understand and grasp some of the terms that were used, such as the exact difference between a barrister and a solicitor. I know that a barrister is the one that actually represents people in court, but then I do not know what solicitor does, just that they are both important for the legal process.
All lawyers in the UK must belong to one of the four Inns of Court. Two Inns are in the same location just with different buildings, and each Inn has it’s own library and focus. For example, the Inner Temple focuses on American and International law. Both the Inner and Middle Temple are at the same location and both date back to the Knights Templar (prior to the 1500s) but do not have exact dates.
The Inns are the ones that are responsible for calling barristers to court to represent people, and the most senior members of the court are called benchers. There are usually two honorary royal members/benchers, Prince William recently became one and the second is supposed to be named soon, it used to be the Queen Mother and Princess Diana if I am not mistaken. The Middle Temple has a dining hall where the first performance of Twelfth Night was performed and was said to have had both Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare in attendance.
The biggest stand out from the Middle Temple Law Library, other than the cool connection with the Knights Templar was the Declaration it has hanging on the wall. The Declaration from the former thirteen colonies, with signatures, was a really cool thing to see. Even more so because little red stars had been fixed next to certain men’s signatures. Those men were members of the Middle Temple. It was a trend in both America and England to send the sons away to be educated in England and then to practice in America, some of those sons were members of Middle Temple and signed that document. It was almost like seeing the Declaration of Independence in Washington DC, except somehow more interesting because you were standing in the Inn that some of those men had been members of.