Founded in 1981, ELSA, also known as the European Law Students’ Association, is an international, apolitical, non-for profit, organization led by and for students. Our mission is to offer law students access to extracurricular activities allowing them to reach both personal and professional excellence. We offer them the ideal platform to develop their legal skills, acquire new ones and meet with law students and law practitioners all around Europe. We contribute to legal education, foster mutual understanding and promote social responsibility of law students and young lawyers. It’s an international community that already counts over 55.000 members across Europe!

Our Philosophy


"A just world in which there is respect for human dignity and cultural diversity".


To develop professional and student relations of an international nature in the field of Law, to prepare members for professional life in an international environment, to contribute to the exchange of scholarly experience and to stimulate mutual understanding and friendship on the principle of equality of all its members.


To contribute to legal education, to foster mutual understanding and promote social responsibility of law students are young lawyers.


By providing opportunities for law students and young lawyers to learn about other cultures and legal systems in a spirit of critical dialogue and scientific co-operation. By assisting law students and young lawyers to be internationally minded and professionally skilled. By encouraging law students and young lawyers to act for the good of society.

Our Identity

How we work

With a current presence in 43 countries across Europe, ELSA has nearly 50,000 members, students and young lawyers, in almost 220 local groups.

Its international office in Brussels is composed of approximately fifteen law students and young lawyers who spend one year running the association. Like all the other actors in the association, they are volunteers.

Two international general assemblies and two meetings of the Presidents are the highlights of the year.

The organization of the international association is represented in each country where a national office is the executive of a national association whose members are the local associations (present in each Faculty of Law).

ELSA, at its different levels, organizes various academic and professional events.

This provides ELSA members with many opportunities to increase their skills, particularly in the legal field, and also to interact with each other.

In addition, ELSA offers its members the opportunity to participate in work experience programs as well as in the writing of articles.

Lastly, working within the ELSA network allows members to actively prepare for their professional lives through international experience.


Our history

The European Law Students Association was founded in Vienna in 1981 by Austrian, German, Hungarian and Polish students.

It immediately affirmed its European identity, in particular by sending legal books collected in the faculties in the West.

Very quickly, its programs won over law students and young lawyers from all over Europe. ELSA is now the largest law student association in the world.

In the early 1990s, the ELSA International association settled in Brussels, mainly to get closer to the Community institutions and very swiftly obtained their support.

In addition to this, we have worked with major international firms. Then, the recognition of the work carried out allowed ELSA International to benefit from the status of Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), which is concretely reflected in its status as an observer member of ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council) and CNUDI (United Nations Commission on International Law).

Thanks to this recognition from the institutions attached to the UN, ELSA members were able to attend the conferences to prepare the statutes of the International Criminal Court and participate in the discussions (some of their proposals were relayed by plenipotentiaries).

Finally, ELSA International has been granted the status of observer member of the Council of Europe.