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Administrative and Regulatory Law

An overview of federal administrative and regulatory law - what it is, how to find it and how it is used.

Introduction to Researching Administrative Law

"Administrative law, though often dreary, can be of huge importance to the day-to-day lives of Americans."

Washington Post editorial, June 23, 2001

This research guide is designed to give an overview of federal administrative and regulatory law and how to locate the best sources for researching those topics at SLU Law.  Some of the resources are freely available on the internet, but many are subscription services only available to members of the SLU Law community, and some only on the main SLU campus or at the Law School.  Both print and electronic resources are represented in the guide.  

When you begin researching administrative law, it can be helpful to start with secondary sources and practice aids like treatises, text books, loose-leafs, law journal articles, and other background materials.  These sources offer analysis and commentary, and can be helpful in locating primary sources of administrative law, as well as how to navigate the Federal Register (FR) and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).  This guide is designed to help you find each of these types of resources.


Administrative law

  • law dealing with the establishment, duties, and powers of and available remedies against authorized agencies in the executive branch of the government 


  • an official rule or law that says how something should be done
  • the act of regulating something


Administrative law results from actions taken by executive and independent agencies and departments, on either the federal or state level, to execute and administer laws passed by the U.S. Congress or state legislatures.  Administrative law has both a quasi-legislative (the adoption of regulations) and quasi-judiciary (the issuance of advisory opinions and informal and formal decisions) nature. The authority, structure and process for federal regulatory law is found in the Federal Register Act (44 U.S.C. Ch. 15) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. Subch. 11).  

Federal regulations are proposed with public notice in the Federal Register, which also includes public comments, the agencies' responses and the final regulations as approved and published.  After publication, federal regulations are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).  

Administrative Process

APA Rulemaking Chart

When a law is passed, the law authorizes executive agencies to promulgate rules that interpret and fill in the administrative details of that law. The regulations that agencies promulgate are a form of delegated or "quasi" legislation and have the full force and effect of law. (Source: BU School of Law Pappas Law Library Federal Administrative and Executive Law LibGuide by Steven Ellis)