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Law 792-A: Advanced Legal Research: Illinois: Class 6: Illinois Administrative Law

This is guide to support an advanced legal research course which focuses on Illinois legal research.

Illinois Administrative Law: Background

The class will focus on introducing you to the Illinois regulatory process, as well as how to research agency information in Illinois. 


Similar to its federal counterpart, the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act (IAPA), 5 ILCS 100/, prescribes the process that all of the state's departments and agencies (hereinafter "agencies") must follow when establishing administrative regulations (also called "rules"). Regulations in Illinois are promulgated for the purpose of interpreting or implementing provisions of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS). While regulations can be helpful when trying to determine the application of a code provision, regulations should not be interpreted to expand or limit the scope of a statute.


In addition to formal regulations, Illinois agencies provide a variety of resources in other ways. Agencies may issue informal interpretive guidance, produce publications such as fact sheets and handbooks, or provide information via the agency website.

Agency Websites

Illinois agency websites can be one of best resources when doing Illinois administrative law research. The web presence of each agency may vary greatly. You will find that some agencies will publish more content or have a more navigable site. In addition, each agency may name its content areas and publications differently. This can make it more difficult to search, so it is important for researchers to think critically about what kind of information may be available and all they various terms or phrases that apply to that information.

The's Search Agencies page links the homepage for Illinois state departments, agencies, boards, and commissions. From there, you can locate an agency and go to its website directly. Unfortunately, the Search Agencies page does not list the 93 state executive entities in any particular order.

Many agency sites have information about the statutes that empower the agency, details about what the agency does, links to agency regulations, the text of agency adjudicatory decisions, and forms, publications, and contact information intended for public use. 

In addition, agency websites may supply other related information, as well as informal guidance via factsheets, press releases, and other agency-produced content. While only the agency's promulgated regulations have the force of law, these additional secondary materials may prove to be useful during your research process.

Other Administrative Law Sources

The Office of the Governor: The Governor of Illinois can issue orders that have the effect of law. Executive Orders and Administrative Orders issued by governors, for 1999-present, are available on's Executive & Administrative Orders webpage. They can be browsed in full text, but cannot be searched electronically

Illinois Attorney General: The Illinois Attorney General (AG) is vested with some executive authority. The AG is a constitutionally established officer, and serves as the lawyer for the state. While AG opinions do not carry the force of law, they can be viewed as a highly authoritative source of guidance. Often they are issued on questions of law that have not yet been settled by the courts or by statute. Both agencies and courts often look to AG opinions, though they are not binding. Official AG opinions, for 1971-present, are available from the AG's website. The AG also issues informal opinion letters, but they are not published and can be more difficult to find. 

Illinois Freedom of Information Act (Illinois FOIA) (5 ILCS 140/): State agencies are subject to Illinois FOIA. Thus, Illinois FOIA may be an avenue for gathering information. In addition, Illinois FOIA can be used to locate historical versions of publications which are not otherwise readily available. Informal AG opinions are also subject to Illnois FOIA.

Illinois Register & Illinois Administrative Code & The Flinn Report

Sources for Illinois Regulations

The two sources for Illinois regulations are the Illinois Register and the Illinois Administrative Code (IAC). The core webpage for Illinois administrative and regulatory activity is that of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).

The Illinois Register is the official, weekly compilation of Illinois administrative law documents, usually published on Friday, and is available in PDF for Volume 26 (2002) through Volume 43 (2019) via the website.

The Illinois Register is published by the Illinois Secretary of State, and includes notices of proposed rulemaking, emergency rules, notices of comment periods, hearings on proposed rulemaking, and other information about rulemaking that is in-progress. Final rules are published in the Illinois Register with the date they will become effective.

Print issues of the Illinois Register issues may be found in the Law Library, in the Illinois Alcove for Volumes 34-43 (2010-2019) and in the first-floor compact stacks for Volumes 1-33 (1977-2009), at KFI 1234.5 .I44, as well as in many other university and public libraries in Illinois.

The Illinois Administrative Code (IAC) is published by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), and has not been published in print since 1996. The IAC is the official codification of final rules published in the Illinois Register, and, similar to the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS), is organized by titles (subject), parts, and sections.

The current IAC is available in HTML through the website, where it is keyword searchable. Older IAC versions in print, covering 1985 through 1996, are available in the Law Library, in the first-floor compact stacks, at KFI 1234.5 .I45.

Both the Illinois Register and the IAC are available in regularly-updated commercial sources such as Westlaw Edge, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law.

The Office of the Illinois Secretary of State has a number of tools that index administrative activities in Illinois for the current calendar year, at its Administrative Code and Codification Indexes page.

Importantly, administrative activities in Illinois are detailed in The Flinn Report, usually released on Friday along with the corresponding Illinois Register issue. The Flinn Report is available on the JCAR website for the previous six months.

The Flinn Report includes details on:

  • New Rules (regulations adopted by agencies within the past week, after having received JCAR review and approval)
  • Second Notices (regulations that have had a Second Notice in the Illinois Register within the past week and are now subject to JCAR review, after having completed the 45-day First Notice period during which public comments must be accepted, and after having been amended, if appropriate, by the promulgating agency)
  • Proposed Rules (First Notices) (regulations that have had a First Notice in the Illinois Register within the past week, commencing the 45-day First Notice period during which public comments must be accepted)
  • Emergency Rules (regulations adopted for a period not to exceed 150 days)
  • Peremptory Rules (regulations adopted without prior notice or JCAR review as authorized by 5 ILCS 100/5-50)

Citation & Structure

The style manual for the Illinois Register and the Illinois Administrative Code (IAC) (dated June 2004) is available through the website. Examples of the citation form listed in the style manual are below. 

The Bluebook, 20th Edition (2015), rules for citing the Illinois Register and the IAC are at in the T1 entry for Illinois, at pages 262-263.

For the IAC, the breakdown for specific components is the following. Note that only the Title and the Section are typically utilized in a citation to the IAC. 

Title: General Subject Area

   Subtitle: A specific subject area within a Title

      Chapter: Names of state agencies, boards or commissions

         Part: A set of regulations (or rules) on a specific topic

            Subpart: A grouping of regs within a Part by subject matter, groups affected, etc.

                Section: A single specific regulation (or rule)

**Every Part has at least one Section, but not necessarily a Subpart.

labeled citation for Illinois Register

labeled citation for Illinois Admin Code

Illinois Regulatory Process

Illinois state agencies must follow the rulemaking process outlined Illinois Administrative Procedure Act (IAPA) when they wish to adopt or change rules.

The process can vary depending both on the type of regulation or rule, as well as public response to a proposed action. The IAPA statutorily delegates authority to certain agencies to promulgate regulations. These regulations are meant to provide clarity with regards to the implementation of Illinois statutory law. For example, a statute may establish a social service program and place it under the authority of a state agency. The agency will then promulgate regulations addressing details such as the application process, eligibility criteria, and administration mechanisms.

The IAPA establishes the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to exercise oversight of the rulemaking process on behalf of the Illinois General Assembly (ILGA). The role of JCAR is to insure regulations meet the standards of the IAPA and do not exceed the authority granted by ILGA. Under the IAPA, agencies must adhere to certain guidelines with regards to the articulation of standards for regulations which result from an agency's discretion.