While it is common to hear people speak cynically of bureaucracy, governmental agencies are actually a very important component of America’s legal culture. In fact, in many ways, agencies are the front line in America’s system of law. With the exception of criminal violations, if you are ever involved in any dispute with the state or federal government, it will almost certainly be through an administrative agency. Some of the more common examples of disputes with Maine administrative agencies, for example, include:
- Disputes with the Department of Labor over unemployment benefits;
- Disputes with the Public Utilities Commission over utility bills or services;
- Disputes with the State and local tax authorities over tax issues;
- Professional licensing complaints or other issues relating to regulation of professional or financial services through the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation; and
- Dependence on the Environmental Protection Agency when water quality is compromised.
One of the essential aspects of Administrative Law is that governmental agencies are given very broad discretion to interpret and administer the laws that they oversee. Because of this, a final decision of an administrative agency is extremely difficult to appeal successfully. Therefore, if you are involved in a dispute with any state or federal agency, you should make every effort to hire a lawyer to help you.