American Legal




Codification is our core focus. Our team of attorneys, legal editors, and staff lead with more than 100 years of combined experience. We are here to answer all your codification questions:

Let us answer your questions!

What is Codification?

Codification is the arrangement of laws systematically.  A municipal code is an organization of local legislation by subject matter, from the general to the specific.  Codification includes removing repealed or obsolete ordinances and editing for proper grammar, consistency and clarity. Codifying also formats the material into user-friendly, easy-to-find,  titles, chapters, and sections, supplemented with new ordinances. The result is one body of current, enforceable law.

What does American Legal Publishing publish?

American Legal publishes Codes of Ordinances in a 3-ring, loose-leaf page binder. This allows only pages with changes to be updated and removed, ensuring a cost-efficient means of publication and supplementation.

What is a Code of Ordinances?

The Code of Ordinances is the published compilation of municipal ordinances and resolutions organized into framework by subject. Logically organizing your materials is critical to ensure that the code is easy to use.

What is codified law?

Codifying laws means organizing ordinances by subject matter and combining various versions of ordinances to form the currently enforced law.  Keeping existing laws up to date makes the code easy to use and reference and is an essential part of the governmental function. When new legislation is passed, it’s important to update your Code of Ordinances to reflect the most recent changes.

What’s the best way to codify laws?

Codification companies exist to guide municipalities. They relieve the stress and confusion of organizing, sorting, and building a complete and accurate Code of Ordinances. American Legal’s sole business focus, dedication and expertise is codification.

What is re-codification?

Re-Codification is done when an existing code has not been reviewed for a length of time and has many new additions and changes.

What is code supplementation?

Code Supplementation incorporates new legislation into an existing Code of Ordinances. When new legislation is passed, it’s important to update your Code of Ordinances to reflect the most recent changes. Supplementation is best for minor additions and changes to an up-to-date Code of Ordinances.

How do I get a Code of Ordinances?

Our Codification Consultants can help you with any codification question. They can meet with you or call you to discuss your municipal needs.

How long does the codification/re-codification process take?

9-14 months in total: Preparing the first draft of the Code of Ordinances can take a minimum of six months to prepare once all materials are received. Once the draft is prepared and sent to the municipality, a legal report is created. This typically arrives about 4-8 weeks after the draft arrives.  Each municipality is provided a time frame (60-90 days) for completing its review. After the review is complete and feedback and any new legislation is provided, it usually takes 45-60 days to create the first edition of the code, complete with binders and tabs and any electronic format specified in the contract.

What are a municipality's responsibilities during codification/re-codification?

Provide all ordinances, resolutions, and other documents needed to create the comprehensive book of current laws. Review the draft carefully (within the allotted 60-90 day review period) making note of material that is no longer relevant or in need of updating. Be engaged during the review. Research among other local communities for laws that may be needed as new situations arise. Provide feedback, new legislation, responses to the legal report, and any concerns in a timely manner. American Legal wants municipalities to have a thoroughly updated, complete and usable published Code of Ordinances. This requires good communication from the start of the process to publication. Remember, a Code of Ordinances is not a static document. It is constantly being updated to keep it current and relevant.

How long does an update to a code take?

Most supplements can be completed within 45-60 days after being authorized. For clients who may have a large collection of materials, or who have materials of a lengthy nature such as a new or heavily modified zoning code, the turn around period can take longer. Additionally, clients who opt to review a draft, will receive it electronically but should expect the review to add more time.

Why do Code of Ordinances contain gaps in numbers?

American Legal Publishing provides intentional gaps to allow for future growth within the code. This allows new material to be added or existing material to be expanded without necessarily needing to reprint an entire title or chapter. This is another way American Legal Publishing provides cost-savings to municipalities.

Can I get a cost estimate or a draft to review for a supplement?

American Legal Publishing provides cost estimates after reviewing legislation to determine what changes are being made to the code. Estimates can add up to 3-4 weeks to the supplement process and clients will need to provide verbal or written approval of an estimate before any work is begun. Once the supplement pages are created, American Legal provides a draft upon request. A draft will add at least 2 weeks to the overall supplementation process. Drafts are comprised of two versions: one showing how and where the changes were made and the other showing how the final pages appear with the changes incorporated. Municipal clients are typically allocated two weeks to review the draft. Just like in the codification process, communication is key. For codes that are also hosted online by American Legal, changes under review will not be posted until the review period is over and/or feedback is provided.

What if a municipal code uses a different numbering system?

American Legal can work with many different styles. While we encourage municipalities, especially those who have not had a formal Code of Ordinances previously, to adopt our standard style, American Legal has more than 80 years experience working across a variety of styles and numbering systems.

What is the difference between an Ordinance and a Resolution?

An ordinance is a local law that usually regulates persons or property and usually relates to a matter of a general and permanent nature. Ordinances are also used when adopting a rule or policy with broad applicability, significant impact and an extended duration .

A resolution is a formal expression of opinion, will or intent voted on by an official body or assembled group. The policy or position expressed in a resolution is generally considered to have a limited duration.

Depending on state law, certain types of subjects may be required to be adopted through an ordinance instead of a resolution.

How can I get a new law created in my community?

Attend local municipal meetings and speak during public comment phases to bring awareness to issues in your communities. Communicating with your local and appointed leaders by making them aware of concerns is a good way to help form new laws in a community. American Legal does not create or draft new legislation. That is typically the responsibility for the municipal attorney or council.

How do I draft new legislation?

New laws are typically created by the local municipal attorney or the Board or Council who help run the community government. American Legal can provide drafting guidelines to assist in this process. Text should clearly point out needed changes and should not be in white lettering.

Municipalities can also use the Code Library to search for topics of interest and see how other municipalities have legislated the subject.

What are other terms for codification?

Codified law, codified in law, codification in law, Code of Ordinance

All refer to the arrangement of laws systematically; a municipal code is an organization of local legislation by subject matter, from the general to the specific.

What is compilation versus codification?

Compilation is the organizing of existing ordinances, usually by subject matter, and then placing the ordinances in chronological order within each subject. Compilation is the first step in codification.

Codification finishes the job. Codifying includes removing repealed or obsolete ordinances and editing for proper grammar, consistency and clarity. Codifying also formats the material into user-friendly, easy-to-find,  titles, chapters, and sections, supplemented with new ordinances. The result is one body of current, enforceable law.

What is Robert’s Rules of Order?

Robert’s Rules of Order is the recognized guide to fair, orderly, and professionally conducted meetings. American Legal has been the exclusive publisher of the electronic edition of this valuable resource chosen by Robert’s Rules Association (RRA) since 2004.  Common questions answered include:

  • What are the rules to run an official meeting?
  • How do you call a meeting to order?
  • How do you keep meeting minutes?
  • How do you write an agenda?

What is online publishing?

Online publishing refers to the availability of a code or other municipal documents online, hosted by American Legal. Online codes can be accessed through the Code Library.

How do I perform a word search in an online code?

The Search bar located at the top of the screen is one of two search areas.  Under Advanced Filters, users can perform directed searches. Both search options utilize Boolean search parameters, and helpful Search Syntax is available at the click of a button. When searching for a hyphenated word or section numbering, surround the search term in “ “ (ex: “1-1-1”).

Is Walter H. Drane a division of American Legal?

Walter H. Drane was acquired by American Legal in 2017. The editorial staff still maintain an office in Cleveland and provide the same level of superior service.

Is Sterling Codifiers a division of American Legal?

Sterling Codifiers was acquired by American Legal in 2019. All clients were transferred to American Legal.

How do I purchase a Code of Ordinances?

Any code published by American Legal is available for purchase. Purchase Codes contain a list of the most commonly requested codes and those can be ordered directly from the website. Other purchase inquiries can be made by calling 1-800-445-5588, M-F 8:30am-5pm ET.

What digital formats are available for purchase?

Codes can be purchased in an electronic software format called Folio Views.

I ordered a print copy of the code, how long will it take to arrive?

Orders can take up to 4 weeks, depending if binders and tabs are in stock. Binders and tabs are provided by an outside vendor.