Othni J. Latham, Director

The members of the Alabama State Bar are a generous, engaged, and highly skilled group. They have a tremendous dedication and commitment to improving the state in which they live and practice. It is that spirit that makes it such a joy to report on the work of the Alabama Law Institute each year.

In Fiscal Year 2017 more than 150 lawyers from every corner of Alabama donated 3,000 hours of time working on Law Institute drafting committees. This time does not include the time spent by the Law Institute Council and Membership reviewing, commenting on, and improving those drafts prior to submission to the Alabama Legislature for consideration.

The remarkable consistency of the dedication of the lawyers and legislatures who help the Law Institute fulfill its mission is tremendous. The three pillars of the Law Institute - code revision, legislative service, and education – continue to thrive thanks to the many lawyers, legislators, and local officials who help make each year better than the last. It is with a spirit bolstered by the work of so many that humbles me as I have the great honor of reporting on the work of the Law Institute in 2017.

2017 Legislation

The Alabama Legislature passed three Institute prepared bills during the 2017 Session: the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access in Digital Assets Act sponsored by Senator Cam Ward and Representative Juandalyn Givan, Amendments to Alabama’s Alimony statutes sponsored by Senator Linda Coleman-Madison and Representative Mike Jones and the Division of Retirement Benefits upon Divorce Act sponsored by Senator Linda Coleman-Madison and Representative Merika Coleman. It is bills like these that update and modernize Alabama’s law and keeps the State in these areas in the forefront of legal jurisprudence. The Legislature’s trust in these three pieces of legislation is a great testament to the legal work of the many lawyers who met for many hours and painstakingly pored through the emerging law to reach a consensus on how the bills should be drafted. These were several more Institute prepared bills that were awaiting a final vote in the House of Representatives on the last day but time prevented them from being reached. These were amendments to the Alabama Custody Act; Alabama Uniform Voidable Transactions Act; Amendments to the Alabama Condominium Act of 1990 and Alabama’s Partnership Law.

Legislative Services

During the 2017 Legislative Session, the Institute again provided legal services to a number of legislative committees and to individual legislators. In addition to the Institute staff, outside lawyers were hired to assist with nine legislative committees.

The Legislative Intern Program exposed a number of student interns to the legislative process of state government. Student interns work thirty-two hours per week in the State House in Montgomery. Many of these student interns received academic credit for their participation.

The Legislative Law Clerk Program continues to be successful with upper level law students providing research assistance on legislative issues.

Official Training

The Institute, together with the Abatement Probate Judges Association, put on four continuing legal education seminars around the state providing opportunities for Probate Judges to stay updated on legal trends around the country and reinforces their knowledge of current Alabama law.

Othni J. Lathram
October, 2017