Remembering Fred Emery

The Administrative Conference of the United States is saddened to learn of the recent passing of Fred Emery, founder of The Regulatory Group and a distinguished figure in administrative law. Some of the many people who were touched by his kindness and expertise have shared their memories of Fred below.



“In his quiet way, he made many significant contributions to practical administrative law.  He was my first boss out of law school when he was the deputy director of the Office of Regulation that was clearly the leader in the development of rulemaking; Neil Eisner so ably continued that tradition as head of the office for many years.  He then headed the Federal Register.  He wrote the Federal Register Manual, so it was he who wrote the original ICR rules. While that sounds far removed from regulatory reform, he was the center of it at the time:  It was he who briefed Carter on the importance of procedure and the necessity of taking it seriously.  He pushed for clear writing and published an influential handbook on how to do it.  I would often quote from it and can remember many times my audience thinking I was profound.  He was sitting at the table when Carter’s EO 12044 was drafted which served as the foundation for White House standards for and review of rulemaking.  He later established a consulting practice that worked with agencies in drafting rules and certainly helped shape the understanding of AdLaw within the front lines of the agencies.  He remained interested in administrative law and was a regular at both the AdLaw Section meetings and those of ACUS.”

-Philip J. Harter


“Fred Emery should not only be remembered for the ground-breaking work that he was involved in.  He should also be remembered for being so humble, unassuming, and nurturing.  He was nice to, and respectful of, everyone.  When I met him at ACUS and ABA events 25 years ago, when I was new to the field, he asked me about my work on regulatory matters and never was dismissive of my youth or inexperience.  He never boasted about his accomplishments nor dismissed my ideas.  That meant a lot to me then and it probably means even more now seeing him in the picture with President Carter.   I will keep a copy of it in my office to remind me how important it is to listen to and guide the next generation of administrative law leaders.” 

-Judith S. Kaleta


"I was saddened to read of Mr. Emery’s passing. I started my career at the OFR under Fred Emery in 1974. I subsequently worked with all on the Directors of the Federal Register list above excepting Major Kennedy and Mr. Eberhardt who were the first and second Directors prior to Fred. (However Martha and Rich were not the Directors when we worked together.) In 1980 the Directors position was vacant after Fred left and Ernest (Ernie) Galdi was Acting Director.

Fred’s Plain Language initiative was a major focus of editors and his enlarged Special Projects Unit. He often said of his recent hires, that they “had a short shelf life”; unfortunately over time we “began to understand the commonly used regulation “gobbledygook””. First on his targeted list were Interstate Commerce Commission documents. The ICC was abolished in 1995.

He instituted new preamble heading requirements for Rules and Proposed; the OFR now proposes to add similar requirements for Notice documents.

In those days the Holiday Party each year consisted of all of us bringing in our favorite dish. I was proud when I noticed the first thing he sampled was my beef brisket on seeded rye.

Fred’s contribution’s to public service were meaningful. He was an innovator and stood tall in the now has become the burgeoning field of Regulation."

-Martin V. Franks