The diversity of experience and opinion in our membership, as well as the character and motivation of individual members, are an important part of what makes our work influential. With such diversity, disagreement is inevitable, but the vision of the founders of the ALI was that members would view their participation as a public service, and not as in the service of the self or of clients. And this should inform members on how we are to engage in the work of the ALI.
For all of us, the ALI has been a meaningful and special organization. Since my election, much has changed in law practice, and much has changed at the Institute as well. One of those changes—a change that is profound and will have far-reaching effects—is the need for all of us in the profession to work and think effectively as leaders and team members in the practice of law.
I consider a Restatement in general to be an exercise in harnessing collective wisdom, not the wisdom of a Reporter. It’s an attempt to gather the collective wisdom of the courts in this country on various difficult questions, and the collective wisdom of the bench, the bar, and the legal academy in making sense out of what the courts have said.
In 1992, ALI completed the Restatement (Third) of Trusts: Prudent Investor Rule, which made several key changes to the law of trusts contained in the Restatement (Second), each under the rubric of a new “prudent investor rule.”
I will focus on a different, less discussed front: federal common law. The ALI’s influence on this front is more recent.
Legislative Recommendations (excerpt of the Revised Style Manual approved by the ALI Council in January 2015)The American Law InstituteModel or uniform codes or statutes and other statutory proposals are addressed mainly to legislatures, with a view toward legislative enactment. a. Nature of Model Codes. Unlike its Restatements, the Institute’s legislative recommendations are written with a view...
Questions have been raised in recent meetings of our Advisers and Members Consultative Groups, particularly in connection with our newly launched Restatement of Copyright, about what role our Restatements can play in areas in which there is a comprehensive federal statute.
In an effort to show that the ALI’s influence is not confined to the states, in my last letter I focused on the impact of our work on the development of federal common law, both in the Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals. In this letter, I look more specifically at the use of ALI materials by the Supreme Court during the 2013 to 2015 Terms.