The American Law Institute is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and improve the law.
ALI drafts, discusses, revises, and publishes Restatements of the Law, Model Codes, and Principles of Law that are enormously influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education.
By participating in the Institute’s work, its distinguished members have the opportunity to influence the development of the law in both existing and emerging areas, to work with other eminent lawyers, judges, and academics, to give back to a profession to which they are deeply dedicated, and to contribute to the public good.
ALI celebrated its 90th anniversary by producing a video that describes the Institute’s work and its enduring influence on American law. Interviews include ALI President Roberta Cooper Ramo, ALI Director Emeritus Lance Liebman, and numerous judges, lawyers and academics, notably Third Circuit Chief Judge Theodore A. McKee, Fifth Circuit Judge Carolyn Dineen King, California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, and Seventh Circuit Chief Judge Diane Wood.
ALI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in the District of Columbia.
The American Law Institute was founded in 1923 following a study conducted by a group of prominent American judges, lawyers, and teachers known as "The Committee on the Establishment of a Permanent Organization for the Improvement of the Law."
The Committee reported that the two chief defects in American law — its uncertainty and its complexity — had produced a "general dissatisfaction with the administration of justice."
According to the Committee, the law's uncertainty stemmed in part from a lack of agreement on fundamental principles of the common law, while the law's complexity was attributed to the numerous variations within different jurisdictions of the United States.
The Committee's recommendation was that a lawyers' organization be formed to improve the law and its administration. This led to the creation of ALI. The Institute's mission, as set out in its charter, is "to promote the clarification and simplification of the law and its better adaptation to social needs, to secure the better administration of justice, and to encourage and carry on scholarly and scientific legal work."
ALI's incorporators included Chief Justice and former President William Howard Taft, future Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, and former Secretary of State Elihu Root. Judges Benjamin N. Cardozo and Learned Hand were among its early leaders.