What is Administrative Law?

Administrative Law is a branch of law which concerns its self with the various aspects of agency action, rule making, adjudication, and investigation or enforcement. For over 100 years, both the Congress and State Legislatures have increasingly turned to Administrative Agencies to handle the regulation of technically complex areas, and areas in which there is a high volume of matters to be processed. The agency is typically given the obligation of propagating regulations and procedures, for handling matters within its particular area of expertise. Regulations will normally provide both rules on how decisions are to be made (for example whether a particular type of license or permit will be issued) and procedures (for example how a member of the public applies for a permit, how they can appeal a denial of that permit, and how the agency may proceed to revoke that permit).

In addition, the agency will often have the power to investigate compliance with its own regulations, and bring action for enforcement if they are violated. There is usually a provision for a review of agency action by an Administrative Law Judge, of any decision that the agency makes. The Administrative Law Judge is a lawyer who is supposed to make a decision based upon the agency’s regulations and the law, but independent of any influence by the agency.

From the decision of the Administrative Law Judge, there is usually an additional review within the agency and usually an appeal to the Court system. The Courts will not normally take additional facts into evidence that were not presented to the agency, but will determine whether the agency has followed the law, and provided due process in making its determination.

I have successful experience in dealing with a number of Federal Agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and, of course, the Social Security Administration.

Most Administrative Law cases are resolved at the agency level, and do not result in proceedings in the courts. Some cases, however, do reach the courts. One case where I was counsel for the plaintiff was what is known as a case of first impression. No prior decisions had been rendered, by any court, interpreting the law in question. Following the decision of the United States Court of Appeals in this case we reached a settlement of the issues with the agency that was favorable to my client. If you are interested you can download and read the opinion. You need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to read this opinion. [return to top]

12 F.3d 1256, 62 USLW 2429, 39 Cont.Cas.Fed. (CCH) ¶76,617

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