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Staff Report

Senator Ward Updates Alabama Bar Association on First Year as President of Alabama Law Institute

From the Office of Senator Cam Ward

July 19, 2012 – Destin, FL – Senator Cam Ward spoke to The Alabama Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Destin, updating them on the progress and changes of The Alabama Law Institute during his first year as President. Ward, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman previously spoke to the Uniform Law Conference in Nashville and Alabama Association for Justice annual meeting regarding the issues facing Alabama’s legal system.

“It is an honor to serve as president of The Alabama Law Institute,” Ward said. “Former Alabama Supreme Court Justice and United States Senator Howell Heflin was the first president, and I only hope I can live up to such a task. I believe we have made some steps to putting ALI on track to continue it’s mission into the 21st Century.”

Ward announced, “there is a lot of good work being done in our courts, but we face one of the greatest threats to our state Judiciary in a generation. The shortfall in the State General Fund Budget threatens to cripple the court system in this state. A further reduction in funding will deny many people in this state their constitutional right to justice as well as adequate due process of law. As attorneys we have a moral obligation to fight for adequate access to justice.”

Ward also highlighted several changes in the operation of ALI, including a presence in the Alabama Statehouse, which will better allow the Institute to provide legal analysis and counsel to state lawmakers. It will also save the state thousands of dollars a year. They maintain a presence at The University of Alabama as well, where a more than 40-year partnership has helped accomplish its core purpose of systematic code revision.

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The Bar association was also told of several bills passed during the 2012 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature which were pushed by ALI, including bills detailing the application of foreign laws, conforming to national IRS standards, and the merger of corporations. All of these laws make Alabama law clearer, and more uniform with national standards, lessening the legal burden on businesses, and helping to get Alabamians back to work.

“We worked hard to make sure the institute sponsored smart and honest laws that streamlined The Alabama Code,” Ward said. “One of my goals as president is providing Alabama’s citizens with the best legal protections we can, while lessening the burden on business – allowing our citizens to get back to work.”

The Alabama Law Institute has also instituted a legal intern program, providing committees with legal analysts from The University of Alabama Law School, Cumberland Law School at Samford University and Jones Law School at Faulkner University, giving senior level law students needed experience while keeping the Legislature from having to hire yet more employees.

ALI staff is also working revisions to the Alabama Probate Judges’ Handbook and the Alabama County Commissioners’ Handbook, and conducting education seminars for officials and lawyers throughout the state to ensure the legislation passed this session is implemented effectively and efficiently.

“I’m so proud of our staff, and what we have been able to do to modernize the Alabama Law Institute’s purpose, and I look forward to continuing my role as a leader on legal issues for our state,” Ward said.

The Alabama Law Institute was created in 1967 and began operations in 1969, with a state purpose to clarify and simplify the laws of Alabama, to revise laws that are out-of-date and to fill in gaps in the law where there exists legal confusion. The membership of the Alabama Law Institute is limited to a maximum of 150 members of the Alabama State Bar Association who are elected for fixed terms, the judges of the Alabama Supreme Court, courts of appeals, and circuit courts, federal judges domiciled in Alabama, full-time law faculty members of Cumberland Law School and the University of Alabama School of Law, all members of the Institute Council and all lawyer members of the Legislature, who are licensed to practice in Alabama. The governing body of the Institute is the Institute Council composed of six practicing attorneys from each congressional district as well as representatives from the appellate courts, Attorney General’s office, Alabama State Bar Association, law schools, Legislature, and the Governor’s office.

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