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Restatements of the Law

A guide to what restatements are and how to locate and use them

About Restatements

What are Restatements?

Restatements are secondary sources of persuasive value. They seek to “restate” the legal rules that constitute the common law in a particular legal area into a series of principles. They are prepared by the American Legal Institute (ALI), an organization formed in 1923 consisting of prominent judges, lawyers and scholars. The ALI's purpose is to distill the “black letter law” from cases, to indicate a trend in common law and, occasionally, to recommend what a rule of law should be. There are restatements on a number of subject areas, including Agency, Conflict of Laws, Contracts, Property and Torts.

How are they drafted?

The Reporter, an expert in the field of law to be considered, is appointed by the ALI Officers and the Council. The Reporter does the basic research and prepares the initial draft of the Restatement. All restatements go through a number of drafts before they are finalized. You may see references to preliminary drafts, multiple tentative drafts and proposed official drafts before the final form of a restatement is published.

How are they updated?

To date, there are three series of restatements in some subjects. Some subjects have a third series with no first or second series (e.g., Restatement (Third) of the Law Governing Lawyers). The issuance of a second or third series of the Restatement does not repeal or otherwise affect an earlier version of the Restatement that has been adopted by a court or legislature. ALI's website details which portions of Restatements are superseded or in development. It may also be helpful to consult ALI news, such as ALI Annual Reports or the ALI's quarterly newsletter, The ALI Reporter.

How to Cite Restatements

Restatements should be cited according to Bluebook rule 12.9.5. “Model Codes, Restatements, Standards and Sentencing Guidelines.”

For example, Restatement (Third) of Unfair Competition § 3 (1995).

Comments and illustrations should be cited according to Bluebook rule 3.4 “Appended Material.”

For example, Restatement (Second) of Property, § 2.1 cmt. c, illus. 2 (1977).