Keith Ann StiversonArchive

Aug 30

Restatements of the Law

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Restatements of the Law QR CodeThis LibTour on Restatements of the Law, which you can download here, was written by Keith Ann Stiverson. Keith Ann is Director of the Law Library and Senior Lecturer at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

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Restatements of the Law are published by the American Law Institute (better known as ALI), a prestigious group of legal scholars and experts whose goal is to “restate” the common law rules that have developed in a particular area of law.

The ALI was founded in the early 1920s after a report was published indicating that developing case law was too complex and uncertain. The goal of the ALI founders was to clarify and simplify the law so as to assure agreement on fundamental principles of our common law system.

The Restatements are essentially summaries of case law, judge-made doctrines that gradually develop over time. They are well regarded because they are drafted by experts who prepare a tentative draft that is then reviewed by a group of advisers who are also experts. A single restatement project can take 20 years or more to complete.

This careful process ensures that members of the bench, bar, and the legal academy have reviewed and criticized the final product, so you can see why a restatement is often considered even more influential than a treatise when you are citing authority.

Note that restatements are not primary authority in any jurisdiction unless the state supreme court adopts restatement language in whole or in part.