By Samantha Aster, ACUS Legal Intern
Dan Farber recently posted a reaction to a study by the National Council of Bar Examiners regarding the most useful skills and knowledge for new lawyers. In his post, he commented that “[o]ne surprise in the survey was the number of new lawyers who say they practice administrative law (over 20% of new lawyers). It was about equal to the number of lawyers who practice corporate/business law, and together these two areas about equalled (sic) the number of civil litigators (the largest practice category). They often worked on permit, license, or benefit issues, but a surprisingly large percentage were also involved in the rule making process. I really doubt that law students are aware of how many of them will end up doing administrative law.”
Government agencies, both federal and state, are involved in almost every facet of modern society. Indeed, government agencies have a role in many seemingly ordinary tasks of day-to-day life, from applying for a passport and determining the safety requirements of products sold in grocery stores, to granting licenses to businesses across the country. So it really comes as no surprise that so many new lawyers say they practice administrative law. Taking into account those who work in Immigration and Environmental Law, the number of new lawyers performing Administrative Law tasks actually jumps up to 40%. Theoretically, that number could be even higher, considering how many ordinary tasks are touched by administrative law.
In law school, many of the basic concepts students learn involve administrative law in some way. Outside of the formal Administrative Law class, administrative issues arise in almost all other areas of substantive law. Although they may not realize it, law students are receiving a basic education in the notions of administrative law that are essential to working as a lawyer in society today.
The pervasive role of administrative law in the work of practicing lawyers and the lives of American citizens more generally underscores the importance of the Administrative Conference’s mission in ensuring that agencies operate efficiently, transparently, and effectively while promoting the public interest. The Conference provides a unique forum for agency officials, academics, private sector representatives, NGOs, and the general public to collaborate and formulate recommendations for improving administrative procedure.