The Council of the American Law Institute (ALI) has voted to present Neil B. Cohen, the Jeffrey D. Forchelli Professor of Law, with the John Minor Wisdom Award. The award, which has been presented only a half-dozen times since its creation in 1990, will be conferred during the ALI Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday May 20, 2014.
In addition, the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers — an honorary organization of which Professor Cohen is a Fellow — is awarding him its Homer Kripke Lifetime Achievement Award at the College’s annual meeting in April. The honor is presented annually to a teacher or practitioner who has made an outstanding contribution throughout his or her career to the law as it relates to commercial finance.
For over two decades, Cohen has been a key participant in major domestic and international law reform projects with respect to commercial transactions. He was the Reporter for Revised Article 1 of the Uniform Commercial Code and for the American Law Institute's Restatement of the Law of Suretyship and Guaranty; in honor of his accomplishments as Reporter for the Restatement, he was named as the Institute’s R. Ammi Cutter Reporter. For over 15 years, he has been the Director of Research of the Permanent Editorial Board for the Uniform Commercial Code.
Cohen, who was selected to be an ALI member in 1987, has been a Life Member of the ALI since 2012. In addition to the projects for which he served as Reporter, he has served as an Adviser or on the Members Consultative Group for numerous ALI projects. "Neil Cohen has been for two decades a central participant in the ALI's work about the Uniform Commercial Code and other important commercial laws,” said Lance Liebman, the Director of the ALI and the William S. Beinecke Professor of Law at Columbia University School of Law. “He guides the Permanent Editorial Board of the UCC, thus keeping the Uniform Law Commissioners and the ALI on the right path. He is a scholar, a teacher, and a wonderful human being."
Cohen has been active in the modernization, harmonization, and internationalization of commercial law for almost two decades, serving as a member of United States delegation to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law for its work on harmonizing and modernizing the law of secured credit, and as a member of Working Groups of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit) in its development of principles for international contracts and of the Hague Conference on Private International Law for its development of the Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Contracts. In 2009, he was named to the United States Department of State’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law. Cohen is a Fellow of the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers and a member of the International Academy of Commercial and Consumer Law. In addition he has been a member of several drafting committees for revising various articles of the UCC.
A well-known lecturer on contract and commercial law issues, Cohen is a co-author of one of the leading contracts casebooks. He has published numerous articles in top law reviews the field of commercial law, and has also written in areas as diverse as bankruptcy, medical malpractice, probability and statistics, and baseball and the law.
The Wisdom Award was established by the American Law Institute’s Executive Committee to honor the late John Minor Wisdom, a member of the ALI Council and Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, who died in 1999. The Award was endowed in 1990 by Judge Wisdom’s law clerks in celebration of his 85th birthday. It is given from time to time in specific recognition of a member’s contributions to the Institute’s work.
“It is a great moment to honor someone who embodies the emphasis in the ALI on really knowing a subject in both academic detail and practical effect and whose great clarity in conveying his knowledge is a pleasure to watch,” said ALI President Roberta Cooper Ramo.
Read more about Professor Cohen.