Administrative Law

Administrative law is the practice of law before federal and state governmental administrative agencies, dealing with the creation and operation of those agencies and interpretation of the regulations they generate.  Most administrative agencies function under the executive branch of government (either at the state or federal level), although there are some agencies created and functioning under both the legislative and judicial branches of government.  Areas of governmental action which are handled administratively include employment discrimination, operation of police and fire departments, international trade, manufacturing, immigration, transport, taxation, environmental, gaming, broadcasting, occupational safety and health (OSHA), workers compensation and Social Security Disability, just to name a few.

Examples of Administrative Agencies For example, the Department of the Interior promulgates environmental regulations; the Federal Communications Commission regulates broadcasting; the Internal Revenue Service is empowered to handle taxation; and the Department of Labor handles labor regulations.

Administrative Agency Powers Administrative agencies make rules, regualtions and policies, judge whether they have been broken, and decide best how to enforce them.  Federal administrative agencies are empowered by Congress; whereas, Nevada state administrative agencies are empowered by the Nevada state legislature.  The purpose of agencies is to protect a public interest such as protecting the environment or raising revenue for the public good; so, administrative law is public law.

The Administrative Procedure Act Governs Since 1946, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) has governed how administrative agencies propose and establish regulations and requires that the due process guarantees of the United States Constitution are provided; federal courts have the power to directly review agency decisions. In Nevada, the APA equivalent is found in Chapter 233B of the Nevada Revised Statutes.

Code of Federal Regulations Houses all Regulations The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) houses all the rules established by federal executive departments and agencies, as published in the Federal Register.  The CFR contains 50 general subjects, identified by title, and is updated annually.

Nevada Regulations and Rules The state of Nevada has its own code of rules and regulations; it’s called the “Nevada Administrative Code.”  or “NAC” as it is commonly known; If you see the acronym, “NRS,” Similarly, Nevada’s laws or “statutes” are contained in the “Nevada’s Revised Statutes” or “NRS”  as it is commonly known. Statutes are the written laws passed by the state legislature.

Administrative FAQs

What do administrative law attorneys do? Administrative law attorneys help individuals, businesses, and groups comply with and/or challenge administrative agency as well as federal, local, and state government department rules, regulations, and orders.  For example, a gaming attorney practices administrative law when he or she represents a client in opening a new casino (i.e. State Gaming Control Board.)  And, a workers’ compensation attorney practices administrative law when he or she represents a worker injured within the scope of employment (i.e. Nevada Workers’ Compensation Board.)

Administrative law attroneys also help those seeking a professional license from a Board or Commission of the state, or who are facing discipline by a Board or Commission.

Are licensing boards administrative agencies? Yes, licensing boards such as the Board of Pharmacy, Board of Nursing, Medical Board, and the State Bar of Nevada are all administrative agencies.  The attorneys who represent clients in front of these boards are well versed in administrative law, fluent in administrative codes and procedures.

Do the rules of perjury apply when testifying in an administrative agency hearing? Absolutely, yes; the rules of perjury apply when testifying in an administrative agency hearing, just as they do in a courtroom.  Those who perjure themselves may go to jail.


Administrative Glossary

Sanctions After formal adjudication, an administrative agency can issue punishments when it finds that an individual or business has violated a rule.  This punishment is called “sanctions.”  All sanctions must be provided for in the applicable statue. “Sanctions” can take the form of a fine or assessment, or an order to do or not do a certain thing.

ALJ “ALJ” is an acronym for “Administrative Law Judge.”  The ALJ conducts administrative hearings.

Administrative Hearing An administrative hearing is usually conducted by an administrative law judge and involves an agency and an individual, business, or group.  In general, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) determines how hearings proceed. In Nevada, such hearings are controlled by the Nevada Administrative Procedure Act, in NRS Chapter 233B.  In addition, individual agencies may have specific regulations that govern how their hearings are conducted. If a person or entity loses at an administrative hearing, they are entitled to seek a review of the decision against them by a higher court. In Nevada, this is done through a “Petition for Judicial Review”  in the District Court System.

Standing Only a party who has “standing” can assert a claim before an administrative agency (or a court of law.)  In general, to have “standing” means that you will be affected by the outcome of the case.  For example, a gaming business owner must bring his own claim before the Gaming Board.  His neighbor, who will not be affected by outcome of the case, cannot bring a claim on the gaming business owner’s behalf.