Chicago-Kent Professor Elected as Member of American Law Institute

  • By Tad Vezner

A Chicago-Kent College of Law professor has been elected as a new member of the American Law Institute, an independent scholarly organization that was formed nearly a century ago to address uncertainty on the fundamental principles of common law.

Katharine Baker, a Distinguished Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent, was one of 32 new members that the ALI elected this month.

ALI publishes Restatements of the Law, Model Codes, and Principles of Law, which influence courts, legislatures, and academic institutions. All members contribute to the drafting, discussion, and revision of these publications.

Baker is an expert in family law, particularly in the modern law of marriage and parenthood, and has also written extensively on sexual violence and misconduct—two areas of law in which the institute recently launched major projects.  

“Often, legal academics spend too much time talking to each other and not enough time talking with those engaged in the practice and adjudication of law. In recent decades, this has been especially true in areas in which I specialize,” Baker says. “I look forward to working with practitioners and judges to provide guidance to the individuals and institutions who stand to benefit from it.”

In a written statement announcing the new members, ALI President David F. Levi said, “The work that the Institute produces…depends on the diverse knowledge and viewpoints of our members as well as their dedication, expertise, and wisdom.”

He added, “I have no doubt that this impressive group of newly elected members will help ensure that the institute’s work remains a reliable resource to the legal community."

Baker's articles have been published in numerous journals, including the Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, University of Chicago Law Review, Minnesota Law Review, and Boston University Law Review. She is also the author of Family Law: The Essentials (with Katharine B. Silbaugh) and numerous book chapters.

Baker is a multiple award-winning teacher, having taught Contracts, Property, Family Law, Evidence, Gender and the Law, Sexual Orientation and the Law, Environmental Law, and numerous seminars on feminism.  She has also developed and taught several novel experiential courses designed to prepare law students with non-doctrinal skills they need to be successful professionals.  

From 2001 to 2010, Baker was  Associate Dean for Faculty Development at Chicago-Kent. From 2016-2020, she was Associate Dean for Administration and Strategic Initiatives.  She has visited at Yale Law School, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Northwestern Law School.

ALI, incorporated in 1923, was created “to promote the clarification and simplification of the law and its better adaptation to social needs, to secure the better administration of justice, and to encourage and carry on scholarly and scientific legal work.” It bills itself as the “leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law.”

Three other members of Chicago-Kent's faculty are currently members of the ALI, including Professors Nancy Marder, Graeme B. Dinwoodie, and Steven J. Heyman.


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