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Administrative Law: Home

A guide to researching Administrative Law for law students, bar examinees, and other library patrons

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Bloomberg Law: On the main page choose the Legislative and Regulatory tab at the top. From there you can search or browse related topics.

Lexis+: Click on Browse Topics located above the search box, and Administrative Law will be the first topic on the new page. There you can choose from a small number of preselected topics or search for additional topics.

Westlaw: Under the All Content tab of the Browse menu located on the main page you can select Administrative Decisions and Guidance. From there you can refine your search by choosing Federal, State, or Topic/Type of regulations.


Administrative law encompasses laws and legal principles governing the administration and regulation of government agencies (both Federal and state). Such agencies are delegated power by Congress (or in the case of a state agency, the state legislature) to act as agents for the executive. Generally, administrative agencies are created to protect a public interest rather than to vindicate private rights.

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

The FAPA 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 FAPA is the major source for federal administrative agency law, while state agencies' administration and regulation are governed by comparable state acts.

Overview from the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School, (last visited April 23, 2021).


Administrative-Law Judge: Also known as an ALJ, an official who presides at an administrative hearing and who has the power to administer oaths, take testimony, rule on questions of evidence, and make factual and legal determinations.

Operative Construction:  The doctrine that the interpretation of a statute or regulation made by an administrative agency charged with enforcing it is entitled to judicial deference unless it is arbitrary and capricious.

Notice-and-Comment Period: The statutory time frame during which an administrative agency publishes a proposed regulation and receives public comment on the regulation. The regulation cannot take effect until after this period expires. Often shortened to comment period

Exhaustion of Remedies: The doctrine that, if an administrative remedy is provided by statute, a claimant must seek relief first from the administrative body before judicial relief is available. The doctrine's purpose is to maintain comity between the courts and administrative agencies and to ensure that courts will not be burdened by cases in which judicial relief is unnecessary.

Substantial-Evidence Rule: The principle that a reviewing court should uphold an administrative body's ruling if it is supported by evidence on which the administrative body could reasonably base its decision.

Sunshine Committee: An official or quasi-official committee whose proceedings and work are open to public access.

Informal Agency Action: Administrative-agency activity other than adjudication or rule-making, such as investigation, publicity, or supervision.

All definitions are from Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).

Subject Guide

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Administrative Law Guide: Sponsored by The Law Library of Congress, this website serves as a starting point for researching federal regulatory law and includes a link to a listing of agencies and their contact information. On this website you can submit your comments on proposed regulations and related documents published by the U.S. Federal government, as well as search and review original regulatory documents as well as comments submitted by others.

Code of Federal Regulations:  Here you can find the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) going back to 1996. The CFR is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

Federal Register: The Office of the Federal Register of the National Archives and Records Administration and the U.S. Government Printing Office jointly developed this unofficial, HTML edition of the daily Federal Register in an easier to read format with extensive navigation aids, various web tools and user aids,  and links to related material, such as the Code of Federal Regulations and the United States Code.