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Federal Administrative Regulations

An overview of where Federal regulations are published, how to find relevant regulations, and how to make sure regulations are up-to-date.

Finding Relevant Regulations - Introduction

There are several good ways to find out if there are regulations relevant to your client's problem. The following are some of the most helpful, most common methods and techniques.

  • Topical research using practice guides and the like;
  • Topical/subject searching using an "index";
  • Using the U.S. Code to find citations to related regulations;
  • Online key word searching of regulations databases.

These methods are discussed in more detail below.

Topical Research - Practice Guides, Treatises & Other Secondary Sources

The best way to find out if there are relevant regulations — and to get citations to those rules — is to start with a practitioner-oriented secondary source such as a practice guide, a treatise, or a topical "resource center." 

Look for something related to the broad area of law that covers your issue.

These tools can help you find helpful sources.

ProQuest Regulatory Insight - Regulations Implementing Federal Statutes

ProQuest Regulatory Insight is unique in helping you find regulations that were promulgated specifically to implement federal statutes. You can search by key word, or by a variety of citations: United States Code; United States Statutes at Large; Public Law Number. You can also bring up specific sections of the Code of Federal Regulations or the Federal Register.

Topical Research - "Indexes"

An index for the CFR will use standardized, predictable language to help you find relevant regulations. It can help when the search terms that you might use to describe your issue aren't actually in the text of the regulation.

Here are three options for indexes to the CFR. One is on Westlaw. The other two are in print.

U.S. Code Section Technique

If you know of a United States Code section that applies to your issue, you can sometimes use that code section to find regulations.

To try the "U.S. Code Section" approach, look up your code section online or in print in West's United States Code Annotated or Lexis's United States Code Service. Check the annotations for references to regulations. Be aware, however, that the USCA and USCS are selective; they don't always list the regulations that relate to a particular code section. So if you don't find anything by this method, try another approach.

Keyword Searching

The online versions of the CFR all allow various forms of keyword searching. Keyword searches of regulations can, however, be unproductive and disappointing. This is because regulations addressing an issue can be and are sometimes are drafted without using any distinctive words describing that issue. If your keyword search isn't successful, try one of the other approaches described in this guide.

If you want to try keyword searching, use one of the online versions of the CFR on the Sources for Regulations page of this guide.

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