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Practice Definitions  | Administrative Law

Administrative Law

Administrative Law image
Administrative law is broken into several interrelated parts: administrative rules, regulations and procedures for government agencies and bodies; the scope of agency authority, in particular individual privacy; and enforcement powers of agencies. In short, administrative law encompasses laws and legal principles governing the administration and regulation of city, county, state and federal government agencies involving rules, regulations, applications, licenses, permits, available information, hearings, appeals and decision-making.

Federal agencies are delegated power by Congress, and state agencies are delegated power from the state legislature, to act as agents for the executive. Generally, administrative agencies are created to protect a public interest rather than protecting private citizen rights.

Governmental agencies must act within Constitutional parameters. These and other limits have been codified into statutes such as the Federal Administrative Procedure Act and state analogs.

What is the Federal Administrative Procedure Act?

The Federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) of 1946 is a remedial statute designed to ensure uniformity and openness in the procedures used by federal agencies. The Act is comprised of a comprehensive regulatory scheme governing regulations, adjudications, and rule making in general terms. The Act basically governs the following activities of federal agencies (unless later statutes provide otherwise): (1) Rulemaking, (2) Adjudication, (3) Judicial review of agency action, (4) Access to agency information (Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] amendment), and (5) Open meetings (Government in the Sunshine Act amendment). The Federal APA is the major source for federal administrative agency law, while state agencies' administration and regulation are governed by comparable state acts.

Administrative Law Hearings

An administrative law hearing is a hearing before any governmental agency or before an administrative law judge (ALJ). There is no jury, but the agency or the administrative law judge will make a ruling.

What is an Administrative Law Judge?

An administrative law judge (formerly called a hearing officer) is a professional hearing officer who works for the government to preside over hearings and appeals involving governmental agencies. They are generally experienced in the particular subject matter of the agency involved or of several agencies. Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) are given special status and independence by the Federal APA. Although they are technically agency employees, they are selected by the agencies off a special register maintained by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
Should I hire a lawyer?
The rules and regulations are often special for each administrative agency and are not usually found in state or federal statutes but in the regulations governing the agencies. Administrative law attorneys specialize in the inner workings of city, county, state and federal government, and complicated legal issues with proceedings involving governmental law and regulation. Use the State Lawyers Directory to find an administrative law attorney who is well versed in the requirements of the Federal Administrative Procedure Act, and experienced with such issues as business and economic regulation, industry restructuring and deregulation, contracting and project development, trade regulation, and legislative consultation and lobbying registration and reporting requirements.
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