Administrative Law and Regulatory Litigation

Administrative law focuses on the organization and powers of public authorities engaged in administration. It also explains the legal methods of controlling these bodies.


Generally, legislation issues directions to the administrative authorities that contain an element of discretion. These statutory directions may be unconditional or conditional.

The laws that establish agencies entrust them with wide authority to interpret, administer, and enforce the laws Congress enacts. In addition, courts review agency actions for consistency with the statutes that authorize them.

Administrative agencies

While broad public policies are set out in statutes, their actual implementation and application is handled by administrative agencies. These agencies are where government policy actually intersects with the lives of individuals, firms and businesses. Administrative law is the body of laws and legal institutions governing these agencies. It deals with the way they make and enforce rules, how they adjudicate disputes, and how they are held accountable. Social science research in this field often involves prescriptive efforts to design rules that better promote democratic and fair governance, as well as empirical efforts to understand how these rules work in practice.

Administrative agencies often have the attributes of all three traditional branches of government: they create laws and regulations through a process of “rulemaking” (a legislative function); they investigate matters under their jurisdiction with wide discretionary powers (“executive functions”), and they can adjudicate and punish violations of their own laws. To survive legal scrutiny, these activities must be validly delegated by a constitutional authority and they must afford procedural due process to the parties they affect.

The rules and procedures that govern the activities of administrative agencies are largely derived from the Federal Administrative Procedure Act (FAPA). The FAPA also sets out standards for agencies to follow in their adjudicatory proceedings, which resemble courtroom practices. In the United States, these proceedings are supervised by an administrative law judge, who is independent of the agency officials involved in the proceeding and acts as a neutral trier of fact and law.

Administrative law courts

The Administrative Law and Regulatory Litigation Division handles court proceedings challenging final determinations made by City agencies. These include challenges to the existence or scope of a legal requirement, or disputes over how a law should be applied in a specific context. The Division also brings civil actions in an attempt to obtain compliance with these requirements, and criminal prosecutions of code violators. A summer intern in the Division will typically write two to four respondent’s answers and memoranda of law for filing with the courts in these cases.

The administrative law judge (ALJ) is an executive-branch official who conducts formal and informal hearings of administrative law matters at the federal level. The ALJ’s decisions are binding on the agency and may be appealed to a federal judicial court. However, a ALJ is not a member of the judicial branch and is not subject to the same employment laws as members of the judicial branch.

Many states maintain a corps of administrative law judges to hear contested cases for state agencies. These judges often function much like federal ALJs, but the powers and authority they are granted vary by state. For example, some states allow ALJs to decide a case solely on the basis of a written record, while others require a live oral hearing before making a decision. In addition, some states limit the number of exceptions that can be filed in a case.

Administrative rulemaking

The process of creating a rule by an administrative agency is generally governed by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). This statute provides for the establishment of agencies and establishes guidelines for their rulemaking processes. Some agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, publish a draft of their proposed rules to seek public input. These drafts typically include a detailed analysis of the issues and objectives underlying the proposed rule.

As administrative law scholars observe, the practice of administrative law reflects a dynamic relationship between legislative and executive branches. Legislative branches set broad policies in the form of statutes, while executive branch agencies implement those laws through a variety of procedures. Some of those procedures are judicially reviewed, while others remain outside the judiciary’s review. Social science research on administrative law focuses in part on prescriptive efforts to design rules and institutions that promote democracy and fairness, and in part on empirical attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of these laws.

Anyone who represents a client that interacts with federal, state or local governments will need to familiarize themselves with administrative law. For example, business professionals have significant interaction with governmental entities concerning licensure, reimbursement and taxation issues. In addition, health care professionals face constant interaction with state and federal regulatory bodies regarding accreditation, licensing and certification requirements.

Administrative appeals

An administrative appeal is a legal action that challenges the validity of a government agency’s decision. The goal is to get the issue back before an administrative law judge for review. This process can be lengthy, as the judge must carefully review the entire record and may even conduct a site investigation. During the appeal, the requestor must provide legal arguments and examples to support his or her position.

Administrative law focuses on the application of laws enacted by Congress to the actions of government agencies. It examines the constitutional, statutory, and common law that create and limit these agencies. In addition, it considers the role of Congress in drafting legislation and the methods of judicial review. This topic is important for any lawyer who represents clients that interact with the federal, state, or local government.

While broad public policies are set by statutes, the actual implementation and administration of these laws is handled by government agencies. These agencies are a critical part of the American legal system, and they need to be held accountable for their actions. In this context, administrative law is a branch of legal studies that includes both textualist and empirical research.

If you’re interested in an administrative appeal, be sure to find a qualified attorney to handle your case. A good attorney will understand the procedures for filing an appeal and the specific rules, regulations, and requirements that must be followed. A good attorney will also be able to advise you on the best course of action for your individual situation.