The Wisdom of Crowds™ 

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.

Reflection on Collective Thought

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.

Restatements and Federal Statutes

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.

The American Law Institute and the U.S. Supreme Court

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.

Clarifying the Nature of the ALI’s Work

The American Law Institute appropriately describes itself as “the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law.” From time to time, it is important for the ALI, as for all...