The Institute, through a careful and deliberative process, drafts and then publishes various restatements of the law and proposals for legal reform. Its projects generally are assigned to one of three broad categories: Restatements, model or proposed legislation, or Principles.
Restatements are addressed to courts and others applying existing law. They aim at clear formulations of common law and its statutory elements or variations and reflect the law as it presently stands or might plausibly be stated by a court. Restatement black-letter formulations assume the stance of describing the law as it is.
Model codes or statutes and other statutory proposals are addressed mainly to legislatures, with a view toward legislative enactment. Statutory formulations assume the stance of prescribing the law as it shall be.
Principles may be addressed to courts, legislatures, or governmental agencies. They assume the stance of expressing the law as it should be, which may or may not reflect the law as it is.
The nature, content, and scope of each project are initially developed by its Reporter in consultation with the Institute's Director. The Director's recommendations that particular projects be undertaken and designations of specific Reporters are subject to the approval of the Council or Executive Committee.
A project is developed in a series of drafts prepared by the Reporter and reviewed by the project's Advisers and Members Consultative Group, the Council, and the ALI membership. Preliminary Drafts and Council Drafts are available only to project participants and to the Council. Tentative Drafts, Discussion Drafts, and Proposed Final Drafts are publicly available.
Once it is approved by the membership at an Annual Meeting, a Tentative Draft or a Proposed Final Draft represents the most current statement of the American Law Institute's position on the subject and may be cited in opinions or briefs (e.g., as Restatement Third, Trusts, Tentative Draft No. 6, 2011) until the official text is published. The vote of approval allows for possible further revision of the drafts to reflect the discussion at the Meeting or to make editorial improvements.
Read more about the drafting cycle.
A project's Advisers are designated by the Institute's Director, in consultation with the Reporter and subject to approval of the Council or Executive Committee. They are selected for their particular knowledge and experience of the subject or the special perspective they are able to provide. They constitute an intellectually and geographically diverse group of practitioners, judges, and scholars and normally include one or more members of the Council.
Members Consultative Groups consist of Institute members who have a special interest in the project's subject. Each group meets no more than annually to review a Preliminary Draft. Members may join a group at any time.