ALI’s Contributions in a Time of Crisis

This year has been an extraordinarily difficult one. We are ensnarled in a pandemic that has caused a staggeringly large number of deaths and deep suffering and has laid bare appalling inequities, particularly ones based on race. The brutal killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis has shaken our country to the core.

Restatement to the Rescue: 20-Year-Old Treatise May Help Ease Work-at-Home Privilege Problems

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In a time of crisis, thoughtful lawyers look for ways to apply pre-existing authority to evolving situations. Since so many lawyers and clients are now communicating with each other from their homes, the COVID-19 pandemic presents such a time with respect to the protection of attorney-client privilege.

A Landmark in the Field of U.S. International Arbitration Law

In a recent column published in the New York Law Journal, Hughes Hubbard & Reed partner John Fellas describes the forthcoming Restatement of the Law, The U.S. Law of International Commercial and Investor–State Arbitration, as “a landmark in the field of U.S. international arbitration law that displays all the characteristics of the exemplary Restatement.”

Toward Clearer Guidance on Drafting Principles of the Law

The ALI Style Manual, a somewhat obscure publication that nonetheless plays an important role in our work, provides relatively clear drafting guidance for Restatements and model codes. Drafting guidelines for Principles projects, however, are not as well specified. This gap has led to some confusion and disagreement among project participants and inconsistencies in our drafts. My hope is that this letter’s focus on the issue will lead us to more consistency in our Principles projects.

The Debate Over the Role of Restatements

In the past few years, we frequently have seen the charge that the ALI’s mission is to state what the law “is,” rather than what the Institute thinks the law “ought to be,” and that we recently have strayed from this mission and should right the ship. This charge most often is made when the ALI chooses to restate a minority rule. As one commentator wrote in criticizing the Restatement of the Law, Liability Insurance (which, despite the criticism, followed majority rules in nearly all of its Sections): The adoption of a minority rule in a Restatement “is fundamentally inconsistent with the purpose of a Restatement of Law project.” Such comments rest on the notion that the ALI’s mission is simple, uncontested, and has always been so. That, however, is not the case.

Visionaries Documentary

The American Law Institute was selected to be profiled by Visionaries in its 23rd season. Visionaries is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to producing and distributing media that inspires individuals and communities to take action for positive social change.