From the Ali to the Ili: The Efforts to Export an American Legal Institution

46 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2005

See all articles by Jayanth K. Krishnan

Jayanth K. Krishnan

Indiana University Maurer School of Law


In this article, I argue that those who believe that Americans can successfully export their visions of law and legal research to other countries need to consider - in addition to Japan and Germany, two countries that are often touted as exemplars - the case of India. India gained its independence from the British in 1947, and soon thereafter many American experts traveled to India in an effort to foster a culture of Western legal intellectualism. As part of their mission to improve the status of law in India, the Americans, upon their arrival, strongly advocated for the construction of a national Indian legal research center - similar to the American Law Institute (ALI) which had been located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since 1923. The ALI had earned the reputation as a leading center that focused on the study and improvement of law. While almost all of the ALI's work concentrated on American law, the idea was that India too could have such a center of its own where lawyers, judges, and academics worked to clarify outstanding legal questions. As I document, however, American efforts to create an Indian version of the ALI encountered serious difficulty. And as I conclude, the lessons from this study might well prove useful as American experts attempt to help countries today, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, devise democratically-based legal systems.

Keywords: India, Comparative Law, Legal History, American Law Institute, Ford Foundation, Indian Law Institute

Suggested Citation

Krishnan, Jayanth K., From the Ali to the Ili: The Efforts to Export an American Legal Institution. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 2005; William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 34. Available at SSRN:

Jayanth K. Krishnan (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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