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Practice Area Definitions

One of the reasons that Best Lawyers is the most robust peer-review directory in the legal profession is that we present ratings of lawyers in so many practice areas – from the largest, such as Corporate Law and Commercial Litigation, to the smallest, such as Franchise Law and Railroad Law.

Because both the names and nature of legal practice areas vary from country to country, we have asked some of the leading experts to provide definitions of their practice areas in their countries.

We invite you to use this remarkable resource by searching for these definitions first by country and then by practice area. We also want to take the opportunity to express our gratitude to the lawyers who provided these superb definitions – the most complete such resource that we know of anywhere in print or online.

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Federal, state and local agencies are granted their powers through Constitution or statutes. These agencies promulgate complex rules and regulations to execute this delegated authority. Administrative and regulatory attorneys assist individuals or corporations in understanding and complying with these legal requirements. Or under more limited circumstances, administrative and regulatory attorneys may assist a client in challenging a government action. Therefore, the broad classification of administrative and regulatory law often encompasses government regulation, legislation, rulemaking and adjudication.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer provided a concise definition of administrative law by segregating it into four parts, namely the legal rules and principles that define the: (1) authority and structure of administrative agencies; (2) procedural formalities employed by agencies; (3) validity of agency decisions; and (4) role of reviewing courts and other governmental entities. (Breyer, Stephen, et al.,Administrative Law & Regulatory Policy, (2001)).

In practice, administrative and regulatory attorneys provide services to individual and corporate clients who require counsel regarding complex government laws, rules, regulations, procedures, permitting, applications or enforcement matters. Attorneys in this specialized field will most often be called upon when a governmental action may impact an individual or business. This encompasses a wide range of legal matters, from assisting an individual obtaining a building permit from a local government agency to responding to a federal regulatory enforcement action against a large corporation.

Attorneys in this area may have general experience with government rules or specialize in a specific field. It is more likely that an attorney will have specialized expertise in highly regulated industries such as environmental protection, land use, trade, tax, immigration and employment.

Administrative and regulatory attorneys may also specialize in a specific legal jurisdiction. State and local agency matters are typically handled by local attorneys who have experience with the applicable law and procedures. Attorneys throughout the U.S. maintain active practices representing clients in federal administrative and regulatory matters, with a high concentration of these practitioners in the Washington, D.C., area.

Jonathan M. Anderson, Partner

Holland & Hart LLP