This Director’s Letter was originally published in the fall 2022 edition of The ALI Reporter.
The American Law Institute is rightfully known for its deliberative process and the painstaking efforts and contributions of the Reporters, Advisers, Members Consultative Groups, Council, and members who generate our body of work and see our projects through to completion. But what happens next? After our projects are approved, where do they go?
At our founding 100 years ago, publication was the next step for our completed projects, and that remains true today. Our manuscripts are edited according to the ALI Style Manual and published in physical books as well as electronically in Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Hein Online databases. Judges, lawyers, and legal academics know that they can turn to their law libraries or one of these online resources to find our materials.
We also deploy a range of communication tools, from press releases and social media posts to website news items, features in the Reporter, and emails to keep our membership and the public apprised about project completion and publication.
Over the last several years, as the volume and breadth of our projects has increased, we have developed new channels and methods for getting the word out about our projects.
One such channel is ALI’s podcast, Reasonably Speaking. The podcast features interviews with legal experts and covers legal topics of general interest. Recent episodes include a discussion among leading judges from the U.S. Courts of Appeals about the public’s confidence in the Supreme Court and a conversation between ALI President David F. Levi and Justice Stephen G. Breyer. From time to time, Reasonably Speaking also presents in-depth discussions with Reporters and project participants about our projects: we have produced and published episodes relating to ALI projects on Policing, Children and the Law, the Law of American Indians, and Electoral Count Act Reform, just to name a few. With a dedicated listener base that stretches beyond our membership, these episodes have been a useful tool to educate the public about our ongoing work.
We also plan and support events focusing on our projects. These events often take the form of law school symposia, as with the terrific recent UCLA Law Symposium on the Restatement of the Law, Charitable Organizations, organized by project Reporter Jill R. Horwitz and attended by lawyers, academics, and nonprofit regulators from key states. Along similar lines, Reporter Mathew L.M. Fletcher has hosted two symposia over the last year on the Restatement of the Law, The Law American Indians, at the University of Wisconsin and University of Washington law schools. These symposia engaged tribal judges, tribal counsel, lawyers who practice in this area, and law students in conversation about the Restatement.
Partnerships with our Council Members and ALI CLE also offer ways to bring our work to general audiences. For example, ALI Council Member and United States Chief District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal hosted Reporter George A. Bermann of the Restatement of International Commercial and Investor-State Arbitration to present “The Role of the Restatement in an Area Governed by Treaties and Statutes” at the federal courthouse in Houston. And ALI CLE has produced and distributed CLE programs on the Restatements of International Commercial Arbitration, Liability Insurance, American Indian Law, Foreign Relations Law, and Children and the Law, among other projects. Federal and state judicial conferences are another promising venue for this type of program.
Increasingly, we also work to identify and communicate directly with specific organizations and experts who are most likely to use our work. So, for example, Bob Bauer, the Co-Chair of an ALI-convened, bipartisan group on Electoral Count Act reform, recently testified about the group’s work to the Senate Rules Committee on Electoral Count Act Reform. We partnered with the National Conference of State Legislatures to produce a conference on legislative approaches to restoration of rights and opportunities in connection with the completion of our Model Penal Code: Sentencing project. We also made our Children and the Law CLE program available for free to advocacy groups across the country.
And, occasionally, we proactively distribute relevant portions of our projects to selected audiences who may not otherwise know about or be able to access them. For instance, before the 2020 election, we distributed provisions from our Principles of Election Administration project to election officials across the United States on the topics of Early In-Person Voting and Open Absentee Voting. And for the last two years we have been distributing the Use of Force principles and other related Chapters from our Principles of the Law: Policing project to police departments and policy-setting organizations throughout the country.
This Fall, we are working closely with the Advisers for our Principles of the Law: Policing project to develop a comprehensive outreach strategy that takes advantage of these proven methods and, we hope, will explore new ones.
Our ability to fulfill our mission of clarifying and improving the law requires that judges, lawyers, scholars, and the general public are informed about and can access our work. As we look ahead to the ALI’s next 100 years, it is more important than ever to expand our projects’ reach beyond law schools and law libraries. We plan to continue our efforts along all the lines described above. I very much welcome your suggestions for other ways that we can ensure that our work reaches its intended audiences and achieves its greatest impact.