The Demidov Juridical Lyceum was established on the base of the Demidov Lyceum on July 15, 1868 when Alexander II signed an interim Statute of the Demidov Juridical Lyceum. Preparation for the opening took about two years. The Juridical Lyceum’s principal Mikhail Nikolayevich Kapustin, who took the position on June 13, 1870, bore most of the organization work. The opening of the Demidov Juridical Lyceum took place on September 11, 1870 in the presence of the Minister of Public Education Dmitry Andreyevich Tolstoy, who announced the opening.
The Lyceum increased its staff to 10 professors, 3 associate professors, a religious teacher and two lecturers. Departments were formed: the Law Encyclopaedia Department, Russian Law History Department, Departments of Roman Law, State Law, Civil Law and Civil Justice, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Police Law, Finance Law, Political Economy and Statistics Department. In 1872, the Department of Law General History was added and teaching of law philosophy history was introduced.
The Juridical Lyceum was financed by the government, which provided money for the main part of its budget. The structure and requirements to students became identical to university law students. In 1872, the Lyceum started publishing “The Demidov Juridical Lyceum’s Vremennik”. In addition to official information it contained the academic papers of the Lyceum’s lecturers. “The Vremennik” was published till 1917. Additionally, the Lyceum published several collections: in 1907–1917 — “The Law Bibliography” and in 1908–1914 — “The Law Transactions”. By the number of law periodicals, it took first place among the juridical educational institutions of Russia.
A complete course was four years. Upon graduating, a student was given a title of a Real Student and in case of a successful thesis defense — the title of a Candidate of Law Sciences. In 1870, the first year of study, 90 students entered the Lyceum, and by the time of the first exams there were already 107 people. On the initiative of M.N. Kapustin, the system of annual transfer exams was introduced into the Lyceum. The Lyceum admitted the gymnasium graduates with certificates without examining, and those who had four years of seminary had to take entrance exams. Twenty students received scholarships.
In 1880, on the initiative of M.N. Kapustin, the boarding school with a dormitory was opened at the Lyceum. His initiative was also to introduce the wardship system for needy students. The first honorary director of the Board of Trustees was Alexander Pavlovich Demidov. The first contributions were made by famous Yaroslavl merchants, brothers Ivan Alexandrovich Pastukhov and Nikolai Alexandrovich Pastukhov.
After the first students graduated, the interim Lyceum’s Statute was changed by the permanent one. Alexander II approved the new Statute on January 6, 1875.
The popularity of the Demidov Juridical Lyceum was growing rapidly and in 1876 by the number of students the Lyceum was ranked first behind the capitals’ universities. That year St. Petersburg University Law Faculty had 547 students, Moscow University Law Faculty — 296, the Demidov Juridical Lyceum — 213, Dorpat (now — Tartu, Estonia) University Law Faculty — 191, Kyiv University Law Faculty — 108. The student growth was caused to a great extent by favourable financial terms and a high level of teaching. By 1880, about half of the Lyceum’s students had been released from tuition fees. In 1883, the grants were given to 31 students. Furthermore, the Lyceum was the only higher education institution admitting seminarians, who constituted a considerable part of Yaroslavl students.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Demidov Juridical Lyceum was headed by a famous historian and specialist in law history, Sergey Mikhailovich Shpilevsky. Under his guidance, the Lyceum saw its centenary. In 1903, the Lyceum with its 497 students was inferior only to the law faculties of St. Petersburg, Moscow and Kyiv universities. To teach 18 subjects at 12 departments, the Lyceum was supposed to have 12 professors (6 ordinary professors, 5 extra-ordinary professors and a theology professor) and 3 associate professors.
According to the rules of managing higher education institutions adopted on September 9, 1905 important changes were also made in the organisation structure of the Juridical Lyceum. For the first time the Lyceum’s Council elected the principal. On September 16, 1905 professor Eduard Nikolayevich Berendts became the first elected principal of the Lyceum. On September 28 professor V.G. Shcheglov was elected the deputy principal. Vladimir Georgiyevich Shcheglov was the Lyceum’s principal from 1910 to 1917. The last Lyceum’s principal was Valerian Nikolayevich Shiryayev, who was elected to this position in 1917.
Through the years of existence famous scientists and professors worked there: Mikhail Flegontovich Vladimirsky-Budanov, Andrey Alexeyevich Isayev, Iliya Yakovlevich Gurliand, Roman Mikhailovich Orzecki, Nikolai Lvovich Duvernoy, Porfiry Leontyevich Karasevich, Ivan Ivanovich Dityatin, Mikhail Nikolayevich Kapustin, Nikolai Nikolayevich Voroshilov, Vladimir Nikolayevich Nikolsky.
The Lyceum graduates were: Nikolai Ilyich Podvoisky, Alexander Romanovich Belyayev, Maxim Adamovich Bogdanovich, Iliya Yakovlevich Gurliand, Alexey Antipovich Potekhin, Valerian Nikolayevich Shiryayev, Vladimir Alexandrovich Gagen and many others. Yaroslavl Demidov Juridical Lyceum became a place where highly qualified lawyers were prepared in Russia.
The possibility of transforming the Demidov Juridical Lyceum into a university was discussed, starting in 1906. The initiative came from the Lyceum’s Council and was supported by the Yaroslavl community and the Ministry of Public Education. Yaroslavl also found support in neighbouring provinces who promised their material assistance. The Yaroslavl town council was ready to give 16 hectares of land and a lump-sum grant of 1 million roubles for establishing the university. After the February Revolution of 1917, the provisional government at last approved the project of transforming the Lyceum into a university, but the revolutionary events prevented implementation of these decisions.
The idea of transforming the Lyceum was restored in 1918. Establishment of the university in Yaroslavl was conditioned by the necessity to prepare highly skilled specialists for the whole Upper Volga region. In the neighbouring provinces, there were no higher education institutions before the revolution; however, Yaroslavl, owing to long and successful work of the Demidov Juridical Lyceum, had an excellent staff potential of creating a classical university. Preparatory work again started in the spring of 1918. The Lyceum’s Council suggested creating alongside the Law Department, the Management and Economics Department and the Co-operation Department, and in the future new faculties — the History and Philology Faculty and the Medicine Faculty. The Yaroslavl Revolt of 1918 affected the process of reforming the Lyceum. First of all, the entire resource base was destroyed. On the night of July 7/8, 1918 the Lyceum’s building was burnt down with all the equipment and a rich library. The Lyceum’s Council faced the necessity to create an educational institution all over again. The People’s Commissariat for Education approved the plan of establishing the university. It was planned to open the Socio–Economic Faculty with Economics, Law and Co-operation Departments and the Socio–Historic Faculty. Also, it was planned to open the Agronomy Faculty.
The Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of January 21, 1919 signed by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, made this transformation — the Demidov Juridical Lyceum became a University. By the Decree, the date of establishing the university should be considered to be the date of the first anniversary of the October Revolution — November 7, 1918. Thus the dream of Pavel Grigoriyevich Demidov came true — Yaroslavl became a university town.