Administrative hearings are the proceedings conducted by administrative law judges (ALJ) for disputes involving the regulatory jurisdiction of an executive agency. Administrative hearings resemble judicial proceedings in many ways with there being pre-trial matters, complaints, presentation of opposing arguments and evidence, and a final judgement. However, administrative hearings usually have more flexibility in procedure and involve less time than a judicial proceeding. Further, ALJs always rule on questions of fact and questions of law, and while they are entitled to one, a party may proceed without a lawyer.
After the administrative hearing, the parties often submit briefs summarizing their arguments before the ALJ makes their ruling. Even the ruling may involve some flexibility where the ALJ may seek the parties' response to the decision before making it final. The determinations of an ALJ may be appealed potentially even to a federal judicial court. However, essentially every agency has its own appellate processes of review that must be followed before someone can access the federal courts, and sometimes in large agencies, the agency’s internal review process can be quite extensive.
[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]