What is Administrative Law?

Administrative law is the body of law and legal work that deals with government agencies. Lawmakers create many government agencies and organizations to carry out laws and administer the functions of government so that everything is in order and works smoothly. These agencies create, implement and enforce rules & regulations. All of the work that goes into these activities falls under the category of administrative law.

Administrative Law: A Diverse Area of Law

The term “administrative law” encompasses a wide range of legal concepts. A lawyer who focuses on administrative law may never have to appear in court. A different type of administrative lawyer, on the other hand, might devote the majority of his/her time to preparing and presenting legal arguments before judges. Administrative law as a career is very vast with varying levels of involvement with the government and the public at large. As long as an individual’s practice involves government work or dealing with government regulations, they are an administrative lawyer.

Administrative Law: Where does it come from?

Legislative bodies are the foundation of administrative law. The U.S. Congress is in charge at the national level. When it comes to the state, it’s the state legislators. Local governments such as city councils and county commissions also have the authority to enact legislation. These organizations can either make laws themselves or choose an agency to do so on their behalf.

Agency work begins as soon as legislation or a set of rules is enacted by the appropriate legislative body. Procedures, such as the creation of official forms or timeframes, may be necessary for them. They may come up with rules that have the same force as legislation.

An agency can establish standards and procedures for submitting claims to or contesting decisions by the agency. Finally, they may have to take legal action against those who break their rules. Some federal administrative agencies include the Justice and Defense departments; The Federal Trade Commission; The Environmental Protection Agency; and The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

The Administrative Procedures Act

For administrative agencies in the United States, the Administrative Procedures Act is the rulebook. Administrative agencies are required to follow precise processes under the terms of a federal statute passed in 1946. Keeping administrative entities open and responsible to the people is the goal of this statute. Legislators feel that the general public has a right to know what the government agencies are up to. Lawmakers also believe that the public should have a say in how these agencies operate.

Proposed Regulations and Public Feedback

A proposed regulation is published in the Federal Register when it is made by a government agency. In this newspaper, the plans of government organizations are published for the general public to see. Afterwards, the whole public has a chance to voice their opinions. As a final step, the agency must incorporate the feedback from the public into its regulations. Finally, the Code of Federal Regulations is updated with the final edition (CFR).

Administrative Law: Who Practices it?

Individuals working for the government

Both public and private lawyers are employed by administrative law firms. A government agency’s public attorneys handle a wide range of cases. Rather than being employed by a government entity, a private attorney may choose to work on a contract basis. An example of this might be an attorney providing legal counsel to a town council or county sheriff’s department.

Individuals working on behalf of private clients

It is also possible for attorneys to practice administrative law for private clients. Helping a customer traverse bureaucratic hoops to get their claim approved by an agency is one example of how they can help. Another example could be an attorney who assists a client in appealing to a state driver’s license appeal board for the reinstatement of their license. After exhausting all administrative options, they may collaborate with a client to file a lawsuit. If a rule or regulation is being challenged for its constitutionality or legislative authority, an administrative law attorney may also represent a private client.

Administrative Law Practice: Types

Administrative lawyers handle a wide range of duties. Each agency has a different set of responsibilities, as well as specialized responsibilities within an agency. One or more of the below-mentioned practices/duties can be done by an administrative lawyer.


An administrative lawyer might write the laws or draft the legislation. For example, they may develop policies and procedures that outline the agency’s responsibilities. Court motions and trial briefs might be prepared if a case gets to a hearing. Attorneys may draft opinions and judgments in their capacity as administrative law judges. Sometimes an administrative lawyer’s primary work can be drafting. Other times, it might be just one among the other duties.


Rules and Regulations are issued by the government. Inevitably, that means at some point, someone violates the regulations or will be breaking the rules in the coming future. During such violations and breaches, having a mechanism in place to identify them and enforce the rules effectively is critical to the agency’s success. Attorneys specializing in administrative law investigate alleged violations and work to put a stop to them through various means and mechanisms so as to enforce the agency’s requirements.

Inquiring and Examining Claims

It is a common practice for the general public to file claims directly with administrative entities. The state unemployment office is a good example of this. Often, complex situations may necessitate the services of a claims examiner’s attorney. The administrative lawyer is responsible to inquire and examine those claims and consider whether or not the law requires them to approve a claim, as well as the risks associated with pursuing a particular course of action.

Representative of Agencies at Hearings

In most administrative agencies, there is a way to challenge a decision made by the agency. The majority of the time, this hearing begins within the agency. It is decided by a judge within the agency before it reaches the judicial branch of government. The administrative agency may be represented by an attorney during these sessions. It is common for this attorney to be employed by the agency. Administrative lawyers continue to represent their respective agencies in court if the case goes beyond an internal hearing.

Involved in Development of Organization’s Systems & Processes

Procedures are essential to the day-to-day operations of a government entity. Forms, schedules, and formal standards are all they require to complete their tasks. A legal team is brought in to ensure that these procedures and regulations are in line with the agency’s legislative authority. Because they make sure that the agency isn’t neglecting any constitutional or due process considerations when they adopt a policy. Their work contributes to the efficiency of their agency.

Counsel for Organization Leaders

Attorneys are invaluable resources for high-ranking government officials and agency heads who are tasked with formulating new laws and regulations. It’s important to know if the courts are likely to uphold their rules and regulations. Proposed regulations can be given proper consideration with the assistance of administrative lawyers. They can also assess public feedback on proposed regulations and provide suggestions to authorities based on that feedback.

Administrative Law Judge

In cases where the agency has its own hearing processes, an administrative law judge hears and decides the case. Attorneys predominate among the people serving as these judges. They are responsible for evaluating the facts and making a conclusion based on that information. Rules of evidence for agency hearings may or may not be consistent with the rules of evidence for state or federal court proceedings.

Challenging Administrative Rules & Regulations

To question the legality of any agency regulation, an individual or business may file a lawsuit. There’s a chance they’ll believe the agency lacks legislative jurisdiction to issue a certain regulation. They may also argue that it is unconstitutional.

Because of their disagreement with an administrative law judge’s ruling, they may seek a formal court challenge. In each of these scenarios, the individual or business is represented by an administrative law counsel. Legal filings, evidence, and arguments are all handled by an attorney for their client. The U.S. Supreme Court may hear an administrative law case brought by a private client.

Why should you become an Administrative Lawyer?

People’s behavior is influenced greatly by the actions of administrative lawyers. People’s everyday lives are impacted hugely by the regulations which are made by administrative lawyers. These regulations are very powerful and need to be followed and so how and when can people do their business is also influenced by these rules and regulations. The impact and power can be both good and bad at the same time. As an administrative lawyer, you can decide how you can use your position and ability to bring a change for the good. Because of this chance to make a difference, some people opt to work in administrative law.

Many people who choose this as a career make this decision because they enjoy the administrative law practice as they can use their legal skills to the best of their abilities. When it comes to administrative law, there’s an opportunity for anyone and everyone who likes writing, claims processing and analysis, or trial advocacy. In addition to their legal work, administrative lawyers are also responsible for providing efficient and effective customer service to the public.

Many roles in the legal administration allow for a variety of work and different work locations. United States attorneys can be found working all around the world. Having a job that doesn’t depend on generating revenue or billing hours may be appealing to administrative attorneys or to those aspiring to become one.
Administrative law attorneys make a living, do important work, and help the public at large. Overall, administrative law is a great career for someone who wants to do meaningful work and help society while working flexibly.

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