Legal Infrastructure and the Forgotten Story of the Restatements

Legal Infrastructure and the Forgotten Story of the Restatements

Bill Henderson, Professor of Law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and Editor of the Legal Evolution blog, recently authored a piece on “Legal infrastructure and the forgotten story of the Restatements.” The piece explores history of the Institute and the importance of Restatements in the legal landscape.  

The following is the abstract:  

This essay is about the importance and value of building shared “legal infrastructure,” which is a term coined by the eminent economist and law professor Gillian Hadfield in her book, Rules for a Flat World (2017). 

Although legal infrastructure is likely a new term for many readers, I’m not going to spend even a sentence on defining it except to say that the most familiar and complete example—the kind of thing that enables so much else because of its elegant design, sturdy construction, and accessibility to all—is the Restatements of Law, which was the urgent project that compelled the creation of the American Law Institute nearly 100 years ago. Nonetheless, like a bridge that enables us to traverse a wide body of water as we sip our coffee and fiddle with the radio, we take its utility for granted in nearly direct proportion to our lack of knowledge regarding the circumstances that called for its creation and the sheer ingenuity, vision, and political skill of those who brought it to completion. 

The purpose of this post is to tell a very interesting story about some of our forgotten shared history. Because the relevance of this story to the present time is likely to be obvious and compelling for regular Legal Evolution readers, I’ll save my editorial comments for the end.  

Read the full article here.