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.
See Restatements of the Law and Uniform Laws LibGuide for more details.
The American Law Institute is continually working on Restatements and other projects. Researchers are often interested in determining whether a Restatement has become final, or at what stage the drafting process has reached. The following tools can help answer those questions, as well as provide a history of the development of ALI projects.
For a short overview of the drafting process for a Restatement, see How the ALI Works.
The following process typically takes between 9 and 21 years:
Other ALI-authored works, such as Uniform Commercial Code articles, are created in a similar process. If you want assistance locating materials relating to non-Restatement ALI projects, please ask a reference librarian.
When citing Restatements, use the abbreviation chart in Table T6.
Comments should be cited according to Bluebook Rule 3.4. Below is an example.