Edited by Fabrizio Cafaggi and Horatia Muir Watt
Chapter 8: The American Law Institute: A Model for the New Europe?
8. The American Law Institute: a model for the new Europe? Lance Liebman The American Law Institute (ALI) was founded in 1923.1 Scholars have reached diverse conclusions about the Institute’s early history.2 One viewer, N.E.H. Hull, sees the curtain rising in 1906 with Roscoe Pound’s address to the American Bar Association in St Paul, Minnesota.3 Pound spoke about ‘the causes of dissatisfaction with the system of justice’. He described and analyzed defects in the US justice system, caught an important mood of criticism, and influenced reform undertakings that lasted for half a century. Pound denounced the American court system as ‘archaic’, its procedures as ‘behind the times’, and state legislation as ‘crude’.4 Pound represented a progressive policy-minded reaction to Christopher Columbus Langdell’s 1887 declaration that ‘law is a science, and . . . all the available materials of that science are contained in printed books’.5 The propositions stated in appellate opinions cannot assure a legal system that offers 1 UNIDROIT, headquartered in Rome, was founded three years later with a similar goal: to pursue coherence in European law. 2 See, for example, William Draper Lewis, How We Did It (1945); N.E.H. Hull, ‘Restatement and Reform: A New Perspective on the Origins of the American Law Institute’ Law and History Review, 8, 55 (1990); G. Edward White, ‘The American Law Institute and the Triumph of Modernist Jurisprudence’ Law and History Review, 15, 1 (1997); Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, Conceptualists vs. Realists: An Institute to Restate the Law, from The Politics of Knowledge: The Carnegie Corporation,...
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