Uniform Law Commission
The Uniform Law Commission (ULC, renamed from the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 2007) is a non-profit, unincorporated association. It consists of commissioners appointed by each state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. The purpose of the organization is to discuss and debate in which areas of law there should be uniformity among the states and territories and to draft acts accordingly. The results of these discussions are proposed to the various jurisdictions as model legislation or uniform acts. ULC is best known for its work on the landmark Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), drafted in conjunction with the American Law Institute. ULC headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois.
One similar organization is the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), a separate organization composed of every U.S. state legislator and legislative staff member, who are automatically NCSL members. By contrast, the ULC has a more limited membership of approximately 350 appointed commissioners. All of its members are lawyers who may also serve as legislators, judges, or legal scholars. Each is appointed to the Commission by the government of their respective state or territory.
The current ULC President is Michael Houghton of Wilmington, Delaware, the Chair of the ULC's Executive Committeee is Harriet Lansing of Minnesota, and the Chair of the Scope and Program Committee is Richard Cassidy of Vermont. Robert Stein of Minneapolis, Minnesota is the immediate past President.
The uniform law movement began in the latter half of the 19th century. The Alabama State Bar Association recognized as early as 1881 that wide variations in law between separate states often created confusion. In 1889 the New York Bar Association appointed a special committee on uniformity of laws. In 1890 the New York Legislature authorized the then-Governor of New York, Roswell Flower, to appoint three commissioners "to examine certain subjects of national importance that seemed to show conflict among the laws of the several commonwealths, to ascertain the best means to effect an assimilation or uniformity in the laws of the states and territories, and especially whether it would be advisable for the State of New York to invite the other states of the Union to send representatives to a convention to draft uniform laws to be submitted for approval and adoption by the several states." The American Bar Association held its 12th Annual Meeting the same year and adopted a resolution recommending each state provide for commissioners to confer with the commissioners of other states on the uniformity of legislation on certain subjects.
In August 1892, the first session of the organization that became the Uniform Law Commission was held at the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga Springs, New York. The gathering took place before the annual summer meeting of the American Bar Association, a tradition that continues. The gathering brought together delegates from seven states: Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. They titled themselves the "Conference of the State Boards of Commissioners on Promoting Uniformity of Law in the U.S." By 1912, every state was participating in the Commission. The United States Virgin Islands was the last jurisdiction to join, appointing its first commissioner in 1988.
In each year of service, the ULC has steadily increased its contribution to state and territorial law. It quickly became known as a distinguished body of lawyers. In 1912 Woodrow Wilson became a member. Several commissioners later became Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States: Louis Brandeis, Wiley Blount Rutledge, and William H. Rehnquist. Several noted legal scholars have also been members, e.g. John Wigmore, Samuel Williston, Roscoe Pound, and John Bogart. The distinguished membership of the ULC has helped to ensure the quality of its work and made it enormously influential.
In 1940 the ULC moved to dispel confusion in U.S. commercial law with a comprehensive solution. This project led the ULC to partner with the American Law Institute to create the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). The Code took ten years to complete. After another 14 years it had been enacted in every state. It remains the signature product of the Commission.
Since its organization, the ULC has drafted more than 200 uniform laws on numerous subjects and in various fields of law, setting patterns for uniformity across the nation. Today the Commission is recognized primarily for its work in commercial law, family law, the law of probate and estates, the law of business organizations, health law, and conflicts of law; it rarely drafts regulatory law. Uniform acts include the Uniform Probate Code, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, the Uniform Partnership Act, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, the Uniform Limited Partnership Act, and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.
The ULC has also experienced its share of failures. In the 1970s, the members of the Commission dedicated an enormous amount of time and effort to the cause of comprehensive reform of U.S. real property law, which then and now varies dramatically from one state to the next. The [ULC's] generous and well-intended efforts were utterly futile; most of its Uniform Acts on the subject were never enacted in any state, and only bits and pieces were enacted in a handful of states.
Procedure for drafting and promulgating proposed uniform laws 
"It must be emphasized that the [ULC] can only propose—no uniform law is effective until a state legislature adopts it." Frequently, a state will make substantial variations when adopting a uniform act.
It takes at least two years for the Commission to create a uniform act or model act. The Scope and Program Committee, which initiates the agenda of the Commission, investigates each proposed act and then reports to the Executive Committee with its recommendations. If the Executive Committee approves a recommendation, a drafting committee of commissioners is appointed. Drafting committees meet throughout the year. Tentative drafts are not submitted to the entire Commission until they have received extensive committee review and consideration.
Draft acts are then submitted for initial debate of the entire Commission at its annual meeting. Each act must be considered section by section at no less than two annual meetings by all commissioners sitting as a Committee of the Whole. The commissioners offer amendments and corrections to the text. It is rare for a draft act to leave an annual meeting in the same form as it was initially presented.
Once the Committee of the Whole approves an act it is presented for a vote by the states. Each of the 53 state and territory delegations caucuses its members and casts one vote. The proposed act must be approved by no less than 20 jurisdictions and by a majority of the states and territories present before it can be officially adopted as a uniform or model act.
At this point the act is officially promulgated for consideration by the states and territories. Legislatures are urged to adopt uniform acts exactly as written to "promote uniformity in the law among the jurisdictions adopting the act." Model acts are designed to serve as a guideline for legislation that states and territories can borrow from or adapt to suit their individual needs and conditions.
Once an act is adopted by the ULC, it is usually presented to the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association for its endorsement. Upon its endorsement, the ULC Legislative Council advocates the adoption of the act in the various states and territories.
The work of the ULC simplifies the legal life of businesses and individuals by providing rules and procedures that are consistent from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Representing both state and territorial government and the legal profession, it has sought to bring uniformity to the divergent legal traditions of 53 sovereign jurisdictions, and has done so with significant success.
Financial Support 
The major portion of the ULC's financial support comes from state and territorial government appropriations. Expenses are apportioned among the member jurisdictions by means of an annual assessment based on population. The ULC budget is supplemented by grants to support specific projects from foundations or the federal government.
The ULC's minimal budget is sufficient because most of its legal expertise is donated by the commissioners. The only compensation they receive is the satisfaction derived from solving important legal problems. Commissioners devote thousands of hours—amounting in some cases to millions of dollars worth of time—to the development of uniform and model acts. No jurisdiction could afford the cost of this legal expertise on its own.
Notable U.S. Uniform Law Commissioners 
- John Bogart, law professor
- Louis Brandeis, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
- John W. Davis, Solicitor General, Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Democratic 1924 presidential election nominee
- Robinson O. Everett, prominent attorney, jurist, and law professor
- Ernst Freund, law professor
- Anne Gorsuch, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
- Judd Gregg, United States Senator
- Albert E. Jenner, Jr., prominent Chicago attorney with the firm of Jenner & Block
- James M. Landis, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Civil Aeronautics Board
- John H. Langbein, law professor
- Karl N. Llewellyn, American jurist and Chief Reporter for the Uniform Commercial Code
- James C. Nance, Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate
- Theodore B. Olson, Solicitor General of the United States
- Roscoe Pound, law professor
- Robert G. Pugh, prominent Louisiana attorney
- William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States
- Wiley Blount Rutledge, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
- John G. Sargent, United States Attorney General
- David H. Souter, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
- Robert Stein (academic), law professor, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the American Bar Association
- Martha Lee Walters, prominent attorney and Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court
- Caspar W. Weinberger, Secretary of Defense
- John Wigmore, law professor
- Samuel Williston, law professor
- Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States
See also 
- List of Uniform Acts (United States)
- uniform act
- model act
- Uniform Commercial Code
- American Bar Association
- American Law Institute
- Commercial Law’s Complexity. Georgetown Law Review.
- Marion W. Benfield, Jr., Wasted Days and Wasted Nights: Why the Land Acts Failed, 20 Nova L. Rev. 1037, 1037-41 (1996).
- Ronald Benton Brown, Whatever Happened to the Uniform Land Transactions Act? 20 Nova L. Rev. 1017 (1996);
- Peter B. Maggs, The Uniform Simplification of Land Transfers Act and the Politics and Economics of Law Reform, 20 Nova L. Rev. 1091, 1091-92 (1996).
- See, e.g., Payne v. Stalley, 672 So. 2d 822, 823 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995), in which a Michigan lawyer overlooked the fact that Florida, when adopting the Uniform Probate Code, made a change in the procedure applicable to claims against an estate, and, as a result, an otherwise valid claim for approximately $3.7 million was denied as late.