Administrative Law Research is Sexy and You Know It

I have not kept it a secret from my devoted readers that I am attending law school part-time while working full time. I have the pleasure of taking my first non-elective course this summer in a field that I am most interested in – administrative law. So maybe it was serendipity when Cornell’s Legal Information Institute released its new and improved CFR a mere two weeks before the course began. Ok, so maybe that was a naive 1L viewpoint because I won’t actually get to put the CFR to much use in a course devoted to administrative law theory and procedures. But, that won’t keep me from talking about LII’s shiny new (and free) tool.

LII has added linked cross-references within the CFR and to the U.S.C., which is a big improvement over the other freely available CFRs. Their CFR now links to the relevant statutory authority and dockets for pending regulations that may affect that section. The LII edition is updated concurrently to the GPO’s Federal Digital System data.

Just take a minute to use the new CFR; look at 5 CFR 1303.10 which is in regards to access to information in the ever important Office of Management and Budget. The first thing that caught my eye are the grey shaded numbers within the regulation that give you the ability to call those numbers via Skype. I have seen this feature available on other free primary legal sites, but it’s still a very cool tool indeed. The user can click on the currency tab and see that there have been no updates to the Title listed in the Federal Register since the publication date of the Title. Also, the user may click the Authorities tab and see which statute gives this regulation its “teeth”, in this case it is 5 USC 552, which anyone who has taken Administrative Law will recognize as part of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Now, briefly compare LII’s CFR with that of PDF and text based annual CFR of FDSys or the even the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations that is updated continually. Which of these resources would you use in a pinch?

According to LII’s announcement, they are “actively experimenting with new features based on the capabilities of the Semantic Web. For example, users can now search Title 21 using brand names for drugs (such as Tylenol), and receive the generic name for the drug (acetaminophen) as a suggested term. Other near-term enhancements will include searches by United Nations product code, the identification and linking of relevant agency guidance information for each Part and Section, and a wide variety of Linked Data offerings.”  With these developments, the LII’s CFR has the potential to become even a more dynamic tool for administrative law research.

For those that teach Legal Research either to 1L’s, in an Advanced Research class, or to attorneys, do you cover administrative legal research? How will LII’s new CFR be implemented into your curriculum?

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2 Responses to Administrative Law Research is Sexy and You Know It

  1. This is a very useful and informative post. I do teach admin law research as part of my ALR class and I might mention the Cornell source, but I barely have time to cover the basics in my 2 credit ALR class as it is, so I probably won’t develop training material to cover this source although if it were a 3 credit class, I might.

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