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Administrative Law : The 2010 OARs are In The Building: Ecru?


Our new print set of the 2010 Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) came today – it’s ecru. We always try and guess the color of the binding (as we do with the ORS).

(The SoS and the Legislature should get a little action going with pre-publication binding-color betting – more fun than the lottery for us wonkish types. This is about as exciting as it gets with law library décor action when you work in the public sector.)

I was hoping for gold/yellow binding; colleagues were going for greens and blues. My point: any color is better than no color (ecru?). It is such dry reading that one needs a warm glow to keep awake while reading it.

(Law students today think they are lucky. In the old days, law students were required to take Administrative Law. As painful as that was for some of us (though not all – it is the rare Admin Law Professor who is memorable for all the right reasons, excellent teaching, or so I hear), but I doubt many of us regret that we were forced to take admin law. Admin law does show up on bar exams so there really is no getting away from it.)

Anyway, the arrival of the OAR is a reason to post, finally, some “in the blog pipeline” information about Oregon administrative law. (Yes, it’s online, but that’s even less fun than using the print version, though I suspect you could play music in the background and change the color and size of the font.)

The Birth of the OAR

Did you ever wonder how the OAR comes into being? (Ha ha. I know – not in this lifetime, but I’m going to tell you anyway.)

I won’t answer all your administrative law questions today, but will try a birds and bees approach, i.e. a gentle glide into a messy, but very interesting, area of law:

Keep in mind that your administrative law fork has two prongs. (Yes, I know I’m mixing my metaphors, what with the birds, bees, gliding, and now forks, but bear with me (no, not that bear)):

1) First, you have the administrative laws themselves (rules, regulations, decisions, orders, directives, etc.): Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR)

2) Second, you have the Administrative Procedure Acts (aka APA) (state or federal, as the case may be). In Oregon, you have:

a) the “Oregon Administrative Procedure Act: (Oregon APA), which you’ll find in the ORS, and

b) in the “Attorney General’s Administrative Law Manual and Uniform and Model Rules of Procedure Under the APA” (January 2008 is the latest edition, but the 2010 will be out soon). You can buy it from the Oregon Attorney General’s office or you can read it at law libraries and online Oregon AG Model Rules of Procedure.

The OAR and the Oregon APA really have more of a “the chicken or the egg” relationship, so don’t put too much weight on those “first” and “second” designations. Stick with the 2 fork-prongs characterization, so to speak.

I could also tell you a little about the history of the Oregon APA, but I won’t torture you. Here’s a good place to start if you are so inclined:

Oregon Administrative Procedure Act: An Essay on State Administrative Rulemaking Procedure Reform,” by David B. Frohnmayer, 58 Oregon Law Review 411 (1980)

That’s enough for one day – whew. If you’re not tantalized then I recommend you select another legal specialty, e.g. uh, hmmm, er … honestly now. There are few areas of law that don’t require you to know something about administrative law. You may not need to know a lot about it, but you need to know something.