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How Do I: Do Legal Research?: Regulatory Law

How to search for legal cases and materials, without being a lawyer..

Federal Agencies

Action Publication
Agency proposes/announces regulation Federal Register
Regulation codified & combined with other regs on the subject Code of Federal Regulations

State Agencies

Once a state agency drafts regulations, it generally releases them as "Proposed" regulations and solicits comments from the public. After the comment period, the agency edits the draft and releases "Final" regulations, which then have the force of law. Both proposed and final regulations are published in the state's equivalent of the Federal Register; these are usually called the state "Register," "Bulletin," "Journal" or "Record". [The exact title can be found in the blue pages of The Bluebook.] Note that some states publish only a notice that Proposed (or Final) regulations are available from the agency, rather than publishing the full text of the regulations. Some time after a state agency issues Final regulations, they are edited into the state's administrative code.

Although the states create the websites listed below they don't always keep them up-to-date. You are advised to verify ther currency, completeness, and accuracy of the contents.

Many state agencies also post proposed regulations on their websites, so you can try looking there. You may be able to get more information by contacting the agency directly, particularly when the state Register/Bulletin/Journal/Record tells you who to call, and especially if it provides a phone number.

Online search for state rgulations

Google Web Search

What is regulatory law?

Regulatory, or administrative, law comes from the Executive (e.g. the President or the United States), agencies of the Executive Branch, and independent regulatory agencies. Agencies are given the authority to create administrative law through laws enacted by Congress and state legislatures. The law comes in the form of rules, regulations, procedures, orders, and decisions. In creating these, the agency acts in two roles: in a legislative-like capacity when promulgating rules and regulations; and in a judicial-like capacity when conducting hearings and issuing rulings and decisions on particular matters.

The process of administrative agency rule-making on the federal level, from the initial notice of agency interest to the promulgation of a final rule, is documented in two main titles of the Federal Register publication system: the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations. State agency rule-making follows the same basic process, but there is no one place to find all ot them; you have to check individual state websites.