Texas Tech School of Law professor Gerry Beyer recently was elected into the most prestigious professional organization in the legal profession, the American Law Institute.

According to a press release, the American Law Institute, or ALI, was founded in 1923 by a group of American judges, lawyers and law teachers, and its goal is to advance the state of law to make improvements for the future.

Its membership is selected from judges, lawyers and law teachers in the United States. In order to be elected, one must be nominated by an existing member of ALI, and prove professional achievement and demonstrate interest in improving the law through the years, the press release stated.

Interim Dean of Texas Tech School of Law Susan Fortney said its membership is designed to “select the individuals with the best legal minds”.

The 4,300 members of ALI draft, discuss, revise and publish restatements of the law, model statutes and principles of law that are enormously influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as legal scholarship and education, Beyer said.

Beyer, Governor Preston E. Smith Regents Professor of Law specializing in estate planning, joined the Tech faculty in 2005.

The area of law he specializes in is wills, trust and estate planning, he said, but also he teaches first year property classes and commercial law.

“I’m very honored to join an elite group of practitioners, academics and judges that are members,” he said. “This will enable me to participate in activities with regard to law development and law reform that I would have otherwise not had the opportunity to engage in.”

Ian van Reenen, a second-year law student from Amarillo, describes Beyer as engaging and outgoing.

“We’re lucky to have him as a professor here at the Texas Tech School of Law,” van Reenen said.

Tech’s law school already has a high proportion of faculty members participating in ALI compared to other law schools, Beyer said.

“(My inclusion) will increase our reputation because the more members who engage in activities in the ALI, the greater reputation for the law school and the university in general,” he said.

Fortney said it is important for others to recognize Tech’s “top legal talent” and to have Tech’s leaders participate in the work of the ALI.

Beyer said he plans to participate in various ALI activities and will attend his first ALI meeting in San Francisco this May. He already has signed up to be a consultant to a group working on the development of trust law, he said.

Beyer previously taught at Saint Mary’s University School of Law and has served as a visiting professor at several other law schools including Boston College and LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Australia.

In addition to being elected to the ALI in December, Beyer received the 2010 Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching award at Tech.

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