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Administrative law encompasses laws and legal principles created by administrative agencies (governmental bodies of the city, county, state or federal government) in governing the administration and regulation of government agencies (both Federal and state). Adminstrative law deals with rules, regulations, applications, licenses, permits, available information, hearings, appeals and decision-making of governmental agencies. Generally, administrative agencies are created to protect a public interest rather than to vindicate private rights and often to extend benefits, such as the Social Security Administration or state Unemployment Insurance Boards.
The Federal Administrative Procedure Act (FAPA) and similar state procedural acts regulate the constitutional parameters of governmental agencies. The FAPA is a remedial statute designed to ensure due process in the procedures used by federal agencies. The Act is comprised of a comprehensive regulatory scheme governing regulations, adjudications, and rule making in general terms. The FAPA is the major source for federal administrative agency law.
When an applicant objects to an agency's decision to deny, limit or terminate the benefits provided and seeks to have the decision reviewed. This review is called an administrative hearing and is held before an administrative law judge (A.L.J.). Usually, the A.L.J. meets with representatives from the agency and the applicant seeking benefits. The applicant be represented by an attorney and in fact, many administrative agencies permit paralegals, law students or law clerks to appear on behalf of applicants. The A.L.J. renders a decision called an administrative order, which may be reviewed by either a higher level within the agency or by a court. A person denied their claim by the A.L.J. must "exhaust his/her administrative remedies" (take every step, including appeals) with the agency and its system before the administrative ruling may be appealed by a lawsuit in court.