What is Administrative Law?

Administrative law is one of those types of law that everybody in law school knows about, but nobody knows what it is. I guess you could say it’s like marriage. You’ve heard about it, you’re probably going to have to do it at some point, and, when you finally get around to it, you’re still clueless about how it works.
When I took administrative law, I was scared stiff. I had heard horror stories from other students about how it didn’t make any sense, about how they had trouble staying awake, and about how useless it was.
Well, when I got there, I was not disappointed. Even though my professor, bless his heart, tried to make things interesting (he brought in beer for the entire class on the first day), he could only do so much.
But you know what? It wasn’t his fault. It was the subject matter.

What is Administrative Law?

First, I’ll tell you what administrative law is not. It’s not sexy. There is rarely much conflict. You never hear about it, but it touches your life every single day.
Are you any closer to figuring it out? Good, me neither.
If you want the boring answer, go here. Once you struggle through that, come back here and pick up where you left off. Or on second thought, you might want to skip that and just keep reading this article.
Administrative law governs federal and state agencies. In other words, it’s the rules that the EPA, FDA, NASA, FEMA, DHS, USPS, and every other agency in the country need to follow.
These rules and regulations, which can be found here (more light reading, I swear!), give agencies guidelines on how to create their rules, and how get “justice” if something goes wrong. The official terms would be “rulemaking” and “adjudication.”
While it seems pretty lame to sum up an entire branch of law in two words, it really doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Why is Administrative law good to know?

The thing is, government agencies regulate just about everything we do. Each agency is competing for government funds, and each agency is making rules and policies that can help or hinder the decisions you are making.
Administrative law goes into how these rules and regulations are passed. Knowing how the rules are passed can help you take a more active role in helping to shape what these rules and policies look like.
You’ll be able to “help” some of these government agencies be more accountable, and reasonable as well.
So, while administrative law can be a serious pain, it is also one of the most important classes you can take in law school.

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  • Randall

    Randall earned his JD from the University of Denver in 2013. He received his BA in Communications and Social Science from the University of Washington in 2010. Randall took the LSAT twice, and managed to improve his score by 14 points the second time around. He paid the price of learning to score high on the LSAT and hopes to help other potential law students avoid similar pain.

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