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Model Acts

Statutes and court rules drafted by the American Law Institute (ALI), the AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION (ABA), the COMMISSIONERS ON UNIFORM LAWS, and other organizations. State legislatures may adopt model acts in whole or in part, or they may modify them to fit their needs. Model acts differ from UNIFORM ACTS, which are usually adopted by the states in virtually the same form proposed by the American Law Institute and other organizations.

The ALI was founded in 1923 by a group of American judges, lawyers, and law professors. Its goal was to resolve uncertainty and complexity in American law by promoting clarification and simplicity in the law. Since its founding, the organization has worked with other scholarly organizations to draft model and uniform statutes that may be adopted by the various state legislatures.

One of the most successful of ALI's model acts is the MODEL PENAL CODE. First adopted in 1962, it has had a major influence on the way that states draft penal codes. In fact, the majority of states revised their penal codes based upon the provisions of the Model Penal Code. The code attempts to, among other things, create uniformity in such controversial areas as the authority of the courts in sentencing and how to define specific crimes, including criminal HOMICIDE and KIDNAPPING. In 2002, the ALI announced that it was launching a reexamination and revision of the sentencing provision of the code.

The ABA also approves drafts of model laws and rules. The Model Business Corporation Act (MBCA) is an example of a model act approved by the ABA that was implemented successfully. The MBCA was first adopted in 1950 and revised substantially in 1969, 1971, and 1983. It addresses all aspects of corporate legal structure, from bylaws to shareholder rights to fiduciary responsibilities. At least 18 states have adopted the act in its entirety. Many other states have adopted significant portions of the act.

Other model acts adopted in whole or in part by the states include the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the Model Probate Code, the Model Class Actions Act, the Model Juvenile Court Act, and the Model Survival and Death Act.


Goldstein, Elliott. 1985. "Revision of the Model Business Corporation Act." Texas Law Review 1471.

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