The Basics of Administrative Law

Administrative law refers to the rules, regulations and procedures that govern the activities of federal, state and local government administrative agencies.

Administrative agencies are created by the U.S. Congress, U.S. Constitution, state legislatures and local lawmaking bodies to make and enforce regulations, conduct investigations or administer benefits.

You deal with an administrative agency when you go to the Division of Motor Vehicles to get a driver’s license or apply for unemployment benefits through your state Department of Labor, for example.

You may also file complaints against your employer or a business with a government agency.

Administrative Agencies

Some of the federal administrative agencies commonly encountered include:

Many federal agencies also have local state offices, and state governments have their own administrative agencies as well.

Appealing an Agency Decision

If an administrative agency has launched an investigation against you, served you with a subpoena, denied you an entitlement or issued a regulation that is detrimental to you or your business, you have the right to notice and a fair hearing.

When a government agency takes an adverse action against you, you will be mailed a notice of the decision with instructions for appealing the agency’s determination.

If you choose to appeal an administrative agency’s decision, a hearing will be scheduled at which you can either represent yourself or hire an administrative lawyer to advocate for you.

Once you have exhausted the administrative appeals process, you may have the right to file a lawsuit against the agency in regular state court.

Litigation involving an administrative agency is essentially a lawsuit against the government, and is quite different from litigation between private parties.

Administrative lawsuits often involve unique procedural and substantive issues, and sometimes potential political ramifications and media scrutiny requiring the need for highly specialized legal representation.

The information on this website is intended as general legal information only and should not form the basis of legal advice of any kind. Individuals seeking specific legal advice should consult a lawyer.

Written by 

New Jersey lawyer turned blogger, podcaster and legal changemaker.