To fulfill its mission "to promote the clarification and simplification of the law", the American Law Institute began by working to clarify notable legal subjects in what would be known as the Restatements of the Law. Each Restatement is first drafted by a Reporter, with the help of assistants, who is an expert in the field. This draft is then submitted to a group of advisers who have special knowledge of the topic. The revised draft is then sent to the Council of the Institute, and later to the membership of ALI as a whole. Each restatement goes through numerous drafts at every stage before the final product is approved.
Not all Restatement projects were completed. For a full list of current Restatement projects, see www.ali.org. Official text and drafts of completed, discontinued, and current projects are available on HeinOnline's American Law Institute Library.
For more information on the development and history of the Restatements of the Law, see Herbert F. Goodrich and Paul A. Wolkin, The Story of the American Law Institute: 1923-1961 (1961).
For information about ALI's drafting process, see Capturing the Voice of the American Law Institute: A Handbook for ALI Reporters and Those Who Review Their Work.
Work on the first series of the Restatements began in 1923. The first completed subject was Contracts in 1932. The final drafts of nine subjects were completed during the first series of the Restatements:
ALI began the second series of the Restatements in 1947. This was in an attempt to prevent the Restatements from becoming obsolete. The second series of the Restatements included most of the subjects covered in the first series but also added Foreign Relations Law of the United States. Additionally, the Restatement of Property was split into two separate Restatements. The first completed subject of the second series was Agency in 1958. The final drafts of nine subjects were completed during the second series of the Restatements:
Work on the third series of the Restatements began while the drafts of the second series were still being finalized. The first completed subject of the third series was Foreign Relations Law of the United States; this project was proposed in 1977 and not finalized until 1987. To date, 14 subjects have been completed for the third series of the Restatements:
ALI began the Fourth Series of Restatements in 2012 with a partial revision of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States. To date, this partial revision is the only complete Fourth Series project:
In 2014 ALI devised a new system for numbering series of Restatements. ALI is no longer grouping series by publication date. Instead, all new Restatement subjects will begin as the first series of that subject. Subsequent versions will be labeled as the second series, third series, etc. Prior completed Restatement projects will retain their numbered status. Current and future projects relating to subjects already completed will be numbered by the next sequential series. For more information regarding this change, see the Fall/Winter 2014 issue of The ALI Reporter.
To date, 4 subjects have been completed that follow this new series numbering: