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Finding and Understanding Materials from the American Law Institute

For nearly 100 years, the American Law Institute (ALI) has sought to ameliorate the uncertainty and complexity of modern American law. After its founding in 1923, the American Law Institute initiated its initial Restatement projects for Agency, Conflict of Laws, Contracts, Judgments, Property, Restitution, Security, Torts, and Trusts. These projects were completed in 1944, and work on Restatements Second and Third began in the years 1952 and 1987, respectively. Recent  projects have led to the addition of Restatements for Foreign Relations Law of the United States, The Law Governing Lawyers, Suretyship and Guaranty, and Unfair Competition.

In addition, the Institute publishes its Principles of Laws on a number of topics, which result from “intensive examination and analysis of legal areas thought to need reform.” Some of the areas studied have included Aggregate Litigation, Family Dissolution, Software Contracts, and Transnational Civil Procedure.

The American Law Institute’s members are nominated by their peers and then vetted through a rigorous selection process. The Institute’s membership is capped at 3,000 leading legal experts, including numerous UHLC faculty members.                
   
The Restatements are authored by committees who analyze cases on a topic to derive a clearly and concisely stated rule. They can be thought of as a codification of common law principles that have While some courts may later adopt a Restatement rule as the law of its jurisdiction, it is otherwise a secondary source.

There are numerous resources for finding ALI materials in the library, including our print collection, and through LexisNexis, Westlaw. HeinOnline’s American Law Institute Library has the most extensive collection available to library users online, with current Restatements and Principles, along with current pocket parts and complete text and drafts of the Uniform Commercial Code.

Note that Restatements and Principles are not revised until a new edition is complete. Later volumes of a Restatement are labeled as Appendixes (supplemented by pocket parts), and contain citations to case law citing Restatement provisions. Restatements and Principles, including their notes and illustrations, are a wonderful tool for understanding common law rules on a variety of topics.

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