Notice & Comment

AALS Administrative Law Section – Meet a Member: Bridget Dooling, by Kent Barnett

Although scholars may not be able to see each other at conferences or other events for the foreseeable future, they can still maintain some virtual connection.

The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Administrative Law continues its initiative: “Meet a Member.” The section will introduce our members from time to time, and it hopes that the initiative allows you to get to know some colleagues better or become familiar with those whom you just haven’t yet met in person.

AALS Administrative Law Section – Meet a Member

Bridget Dooling

A group of people posing for the camera

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Institution: George Washington University, Regulatory Studies Center

Hometown: Ogdensburg, NY; London, England; Arlington, VA (it’s complicated!)

Current Project: I have a few irons in the fire, which is how I like it. I have a couple of projects about the Congressional Review Act, one looking at US GAO’s unique role in deciding what “counts” as a rule that can be disapproved by Congress and one looking at how legislators have used the CRA over the years. I’m also writing about the humble Paperwork Reduction Act (see below), the misunderstood nature of agency independence, the phenomenon of “fake” comments in regulatory dockets, and a really timely project on regulatory pathways to improve access to opioid addiction treatment during the pandemic.

Favorite APA Provision and why? It’s not the APA but I never miss an opportunity to promote the Paperwork Reduction Act. This is an underappreciated admin law statute that’s often overshadowed by its big sister, the APA. Among other things, the PRA requires an agency to explain the “practical utility” of the information it proposes to collect from people. “Practical” does a lot of work here; a fishing expedition is not acceptable under the law. The government needs all kinds of information to administer programs, but people’s time is precious. The PRA keeps pressure on the agencies to justify what they need ahead of time, and that’s a good thing.

Hard Look or Soft Glance? When the standard is “arbitrariness,” I’m fine with reasoning being on the receiving end of a hard look.

You can pick three former Supreme Court Justices for a dinner party. Whom do you choose and why? Oh gosh, this question makes me anxious. I’m a person who doesn’t approach famous people when I see them. I feel like they deserve some peace and quiet. I’m also an introvert. But if I could buy a drink or dessert for three former Justices from the other side of the restaurant, I’d choose Sandra Day O’Connor, Earl Warren, and Antonin Scalia; all trail-blazers in their own ways.

What would students incorrectly assume about you? They probably would not realize how much time I’ve spent in government, and in varied roles. If I’m known at all it’s for my 10+ years as a policy analyst, deputy branch chief, and attorney at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), but I have worked in 4 other federal agencies, too: Commerce (intern covering Internet governance issues), Justice (paralegal in the antitrust division), Labor (clerk to an administrative law judge), and the Administrative Conference (special assistant to the chairman). I also spent a semester with the Senate Judiciary Committee in law school and summered with a Virginia state judge. I love to talk with students about the many ways to have a rewarding government career with a law degree.

Where do you want to vacation next (whenever we can vacation normally again)? I’m writing to you from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. My husband and I drove here from DC in late May. We’re so grateful that we can both work full time from such a beautiful place. On the evenings and weekends we can hike and float down the nearby Yampa river, so it feels like a working vacation. I definitely recommend the great outdoors, and not just because UV light kills viruses!

Professor Dooling’s most recent work includes the following:

  • Into the Void: GAO’s Role in the Regulatory State, 70 Am. U. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2020)
  • Bespoke Regulatory Review, 81 Ohio St. L.J. (forthcoming 2020)
  • OIRA’s Expanded Review of Tax Regulations and Its Surprising Implications, 3 Bus. Entrepreneurship & Tax L. Rev. 224 (2019)

Check out Professor Dooling’s faculty profile here and download her papers from SSRN here.

Kent Barnett is the J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law. He currently serves as Chair of the AALS Section on Administrative Law.

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