The American Law Institute was founded in 1923 when members of the legal community came together to address the uncertainty and complexity with the law, such as a lack of agreement on legal principles and a lack of precision in using legal terms, according to the institute. The organization began by restating legal subjects, such as conflict of laws, contracts and torts, in order to explain the law to judges and attorneys and improve the administration of justice. The institute continues this process today and also works to identify legal areas in need of reform, such as international intellectual property law.
Membership in the institute is limited to 3,000 elected judges, lawyers and legal teachers. Members, such as Reams, become eligible for life membership after serving 25 years.
Reams described the institute as the “think factory” for revisions of American law and recalled a revision of corporate law in the 1990s that brought together members of the corporate and plaintiffs bar to advocate for their positions regarding corporate liability. Each side was attempting to argue points that would establish the law in their favor. Reams said the group made some revisions to accommodate the stance of the corporate bar but that essentially the plaintiffs bar prevailed “because it represented what was best for society.”
Additional full-time law faculty members who are members of the institute include:
- Stephen M. Sheppard, J.D., J.S.D., Dean of the School of Law
- Michael S. Ariens, J.D., Professor of Law
- Charles E. Cantú, J.D., Dean Emeritus
- Robert H. Hu, Ph.D., Professor of Law
- Vincent R. Johnson, J.D., LL.D., Professor of Law
- Colin P. Marks, J.D., Professor of Law
- Gerald S. Reamey, J.D., Professor of Law
- David A. Schlueter, J.D., Hardy Professor of Law