The American Law Institute has elected Robert H. Sitkoff, John L. Gray Professor of Law, to join its Council. The Council serves as the governing body of the ALI, the leading independent organization in the U.S. producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law. The ALI publishes Restatements of the Law, model statutes, and principles of law that are enormously influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education.
Council members, who are elected from the ALI’s membership, include prominent judges, lawyers, and legal scholars with a broad range of specialties. HLS Professor Daniel Meltzer ’75 is a current member of the 56-member Council. Judge Michael Boudin ’64, a lecturer at HLS, is an emeritus member, and HLS Professor Elizabeth Warren is a former member. Sitkoff was one of six new Council members elected at the ALI’s Annual Meeting in May. Also elected was HLS alumnus Daniel Rodriguez ’87, dean of Northwestern University School of Law.
“I congratulate Rob on this eminent appointment and also congratulate the American Law Institute in recruiting him,” said HLS Dean Martha Minow. “His talents, knowledge, skills, and energy will ensure excellence and impact in the Council’s valuable programs and projects.”
On May 20, the day before his election to the Council, Sitkoff made a presentation to the ALI titled “The Prudent Investor Rule 20 Years On and After the Financial Crisis.” He was joined by Susan Gary, a professor at the University of Oregon School of Law, Bevis Longstreth ’61 a retired partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, and Randall W. Roth, a professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii.
In 1992, the ALI promulgated a new Prudent Investor Rule that has since been adopted by every state. Since the financial crisis of 2008, however, the Rule has come under increasing scrutiny. Bucking that trend, Sitkoff argued that that recent criticisms of the rule reflect a misunderstanding of the relevant law and economics of trust investment. In support of his argument, Sitkoff presented an empirical analysis of trust investment by professional trustees over the past two decades, including just before, during, and after the crisis. Read more about the presentation here.
Sitkoff—the youngest chaired professor with tenure in the history of Harvard Law School—focuses his research primarily on economic and empirical analysis of the law of trusts and estates. His work has been published in leading scholarly journals such as the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the Columbia Law Review, and the Journal of Law and Economics. Sitkoff is a co-author of Wills, Trusts, and Estates (Aspen 8th ed. 2009), the leading American coursebook on trusts and estates. He is the editor of the Wills, Trusts, and Estates abstracting journal of the Social Science Research Network and is an academic Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
Sitkoff has long been active in law reform. In addition to his new position on the ALI Council, since 2008 Sitkoff has served under gubernatorial appointment as a Uniform Law Commissioner from Massachusetts. Within the ULC, which drafts uniform legislation for adoption by the states, Sitkoff has served on several drafting committees. He is also a liaison member of the Joint Editorial Board for Uniform Trusts and Estates Acts, which supervises all uniform law activity pertaining to trusts and estates.