Tulane Law Prof. Ron Scalise (BA’97, L’00), who is the editor of the Louisiana Civil Code and has established himself as a foremost expert in the state’s unique legal tenets, has been elected to the American Law Institute, the nation’s most influential legal reform organization.
Founded in 1923, the ALI is an independent organization composed of distinguished scholars, judges, and practicing lawyers and that produces scholarly work, including influential legal “restatements,” to “clarify, modernize and otherwise improve the law,” according to its mission statement.
“Election to ALI membership is a signal honor. In Ron’s case, his election recognizes not only his distinction as a scholar but also his long record of leadership in law reform through the Louisiana State Law Institute,” said law Dean David Meyer.
Scalise, the John Minor Wisdom Professor of Civil Law, has distinguished himself as a deeply knowledgeable and careful scholar of Louisiana’s civil law code, which was historically used in France, Spain and ancient Rome (all other states use the English common law system).
He was the editor of the 2018 and 2019 Louisiana Civil Code, Volumes I and II, which are used by the state’s legal community as the definitive book on civil law, including family law, property rights, successions, contracts, torts, and other areas of private law. The book is used by lawyers, students, judges and other practitioners has been edited by a Tulane Law professor for more than 40 years.
Scalise took over editing the volume in 2018 from his former mentor and long-time collaborator, A.N. “Thanassi” Yiannopoulos, the Eason-Weinmann Chair Emeritus at Tulane Law until his death in 2017 and the man who in 1968 began revising and reshaping major parts of Louisiana’s civil code.
"The pre-eminence of Tulane faculty in civil law scholarship is a point of enormous pride and a defining strength for our law school nationally,” Meyer said. “Thanassi Yiannopoulos was a singular scholarly force in Louisiana civil law and in comparative law more broadly for half a century, and Ron Scalise is a worthy successor in every dimension.”
Scalise joined the Tulane Law faculty in 2009 and held the A.D. Freeman Professorship from 2009 to 2018. He served as Vice Dean of the law school from 2012 to 2016. Prior to arriving at Tulane, Scalise served on the faculty of the Louisiana State University Law Center from 2004 to 2009. In 2007, he was awarded the McGlinchey Stafford Associate Professorship there, and, in 2009, he served as Acting Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
Scalise’s election to the prestigious ALI is not surprising; he has served on a number of law reform projects and on those related to the betterment of the legal profession during his career in the private sector and academia. He was recently appointed by the Uniform Law Commission as the Reporter for the revision of the Uniform Disposition of Community Property at Death Act. He also currently serves as reporter for the Successions and Donations Committee, the Trust Code Committee, the Prescription Committee, and the Committee on Aleatory Contracts/Signification of Terms of the Louisiana State Law Institute and as a member of the Council and a committee member of over a dozen other subject-matter specific revision committees.
He has served for years as a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Board of Governors, and until 2017 served on the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization, including in positions as both Chair and Vice Chair of the Board.
In 2011, he was appointed to serve as an appeals judge in cases contesting decisions made by the BP oil spill compensation system, and in 2012 he was elected as an associate member of the International Academy of Comparative Law.
A Board member of the American Society of Comparative Law, Scalise has written extensively on civil law topics, particularly in the area of successions and inheritance. He is also the primary author for the annual updates for five volumes in the Louisiana Civil Law Treatise series on property and obligations.
In 2014, he was elected as an academic fellow to the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel (ACTEC), and in 2015 was given the Leadership in Law Award by New Orleans City Business. In 2018, he was awarded both the Felix Frankfurter Award for law teaching and the John Minor Wisdom Award for the best civil law article published in the Tulane Law Review.
The ALI is a cornerstone organization in the American legal system. “ALI drafts, discusses, revises, and publishes Restatements of the Law, Model Codes, and Principles of Law that are enormously influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education.”
Members can influence the development of law in both existing areas of legal work and those that are emerging. They are able to work with other eminent lawyers, judges, academics and contribute to the public good. Scalise joins seven other Tulane colleagues as elected ALI members, including Tulane President Mike Fitts, Senior Vice President Richard Matasar, Dean David Meyer, and Professors Joel Friedman, Kristin Johnson, Cynthia Samuel, and Ed Sherman.