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Administrative Law Research: Finding Regulations

CFR Citations

The CFR is the codification of the general and permanent rules and regulations published in the Federal Register.  The CFR is organized into 50 titles which each represent broad subject areas, very similar to how the U.S. Code is arranged. 

Example of a CFR citation:

14 C.F.R. § 129.29 (2014)

The first number is the title number, letting you know the general subject area of the regulation.  The second number is the section number.  Many citations will include a decimal point to indicate a subsection.


Agency Websites

Agency websites are great resources when researching regulations.  Not only to individual agency's websites often include their regulations, but they often include guides to doing business with the agency and other explanatory materials.  

Not sure which agency governs your issue?  Consult this A-Z index of federal agencies or this subject guide to agencies.

Commercial Services

Many attorneys who practice in a highly regulated area of law like tax, securities or employment subscribe to other commercial services that focus on their area of law.  2 of the most popular commercial services are BNA and CCH. They both arrange their content by subject area.

BNA has created “Resource Centers” in a number of areas including Labor and EmploymentTax, and Intellectual Property, among others, where you can see the latest news and also search for relevant primary law, including cases, statutes and regulations. 

CCH groups its resources into “Practice Areas” such as Federal Tax or Securities where users can search or browse tax treatises, statutes, regulations or administrative decisions all in one place. 


Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

After an agency publishes a notice of final rulemaking (see Rulemaking Process), the regulation is codified in the Code of Federal Regulations or CFR.  When looking for the current regulations in effect, search the CFR. 

Where to find the CFR:

Starting with a Statute

One way to find regulations on a specific issue is to begin with an annotated statute. Agencies can only act within the scope of their Congressional grant of authority. The statute passed by Congress will spell out which agency is being charged with enforcing the provisions of that law. An annotated statute will include a citation to the related regulations.

In Westlaw Next, you can find regulations related to a statute by clicking on the Citing References tab at the top of the staute, then narrowing by Regulations using the fields on the left side of the screen.

In Lexis, find related regulations under Research References & Practice Aids at the bottom of the statute.