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MSL Introduction to Legal Research: Regulations & Admin Decisions

Legal research assistance for MSL students writing seminar papers.

Administrative Agency Authority

Legislatures delegate:
  • agencies broad authority
  • to promulgate and enforce rules (regulations)
  • via enabling legislation.

Those regulations have the force and effect of law.


Publication of Regulations

Codified regulations are a topical arrangement of the regulations currently in force. The Code of Federal Regulations is the official codification of federal regulations whereas the New Mexico Administrative Code is the official codification of New Mexico's regulations.

Proposed and Newly Adopted Regulations (as well as agency agendas and upcoming meetings) are collected and published daily in the Federal Register and biweekly in the New Mexico Register.

Agency Websites

Government agency websites are often the best place to begin your research.

  • Information varies widely by agency but most include
  • laws and regulations,
  • administrative decisions,
  • information about programs and policies,
  • recent reports, and
  • other documents produced by the agency.

They are usually reliable and very current.

Searching for Regulations & Agency Decisions in Westlaw

By Citation
Enter the citation into the search box at the top of the screen,

Regulations By Keyword
Keyword searching for regulations is a challenge because they are highly detailed and technical and tend to use repetitive language.

  1. Click on Regulations then pick your jurisdiction.
  2. Think carefully about search options and limits, you have the Table of Contents, Index (CFR only, not states), and Advanced Search fields available to you. Using these thoughtfully will keep your results list from overwhelming you.
  3. Enter your search terms.
  4. Look through your results for the relevant regulation. If you read one and it is not what you wanted, click on Return to List to get back to the results list.

Agency Decisions by Keyword

  1. Click on Administrative Decisions & Guidance then pick your jurisdiction.
  2. Browse through the options for each agency listed.
  3. Consider using the Advanced Search fields if they would be helpful for your search.
  4. Enter your search terms.
  5. Look through your results for the relevant regulation. If you read one and it is not what you wanted, click on Return to List to get back to the results list.

Working with Regulations in Westlaw

Table of Contents. Click on this button, located in the banner just below the tabs, to see where your regulation falls within the Table of Context. This provides context for your regulation-- look for introduction, definitions, etc.

Source Note. At the end of the text, this —shows the citation and date of the Federal Register in which the part was last published in full.

Authority Note. Located along with the Source Note, it —shows the regulation's statutory or executive authori

Tabs. There are tabs for Notes of Decisions, History, Citing References, Context & Analysis.

  • Notes of Decisions. This tab contains summaries of cases that have analyzed or interpreted the regulation along with key number references
  • History. Look here for previous versions of the regulation.
  • Citing References. Lists all items that have cited the regulation.
  • Context & Analysis. Look here for cross references to other sections of the regulations as well as references to other finding aids.

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