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Understanding Administrative Law Research

Administrative law is law made by the executive branch: federal and state agencies, the President, and governors.

Because administrative law is complex and varies by agency, it's especially important to start your research with a secondary source. Try treatises for researching specific questions and study aids and casebooks for additional background.

Primary sources of administrative law include:

  • Other agency materials, available on legal databases and agency websites, and including:
    • Guidance: Rules informally passed by agencies and not included in a code.
    • Administrative decisions: Like cases, but decided by agencies, rather than the courts.
    • Forms and databases: Many agencies are responsible for granting licenses (e.g. nursing, teaching) and registrations (e.g. trademarks, corporations). These agencies provide forms to apply for licenses and registrations, plus databases of existing licenses and registrations.

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This guide was created by Caitlin Hunter and is now maintained by Amber Madole. 

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