Restatements of Law, or simply Restatements, are highly-regarded summaries of common law. They are prepared by the American Law Institute (ALI), a prestigious organization comprised of judges, professors, and lawyers. ALI's aim is to distill the "black letter law" from cases to indicate trends in common law and occasionally to recommend what a rule of law should be. In essence, they restate existing common law into a series of principles or rules.
Restatements cover broad legal topics, such as Contracts or Property. They are organized into chapters, titles, and sections. Sections contain a concisely stated rule of law, explanation of purpose, comments to clarify the rule, hypothetical examples, and any exceptions to the rule.
Although Restatements are not primary law, they are considered persuasive authority by many courts due to the prestige of ALI and its painstaking drafting process. The most heavily cited Restatements are the Restatement of Torts and the Restatement of Contracts.
Online: The most comprehensive collection is available in HeinOnline's American Law Institute Library, but Restatements can also be found on Lexis and Westlaw platforms.
Print: The Law Library has some of the Restatements in print; for additional details, see Restatements held by the Law Library.