The Role of the State Attorney General

The Role of the State Attorney General

Mr. James Tierney, Mr. Peter Brann
Fall 2020 course
M 1:00pm - 3:00pm
2 classroom credits

Students who enroll in this offering may count the credits towards the JD experiential learning requirement.


Required Clinic Component: Government Lawyer: Attorney General Clinic (fall, winter and spring semesters). Students who enroll in any of the three clinic offerings will be enrolled in this required clinical course by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: No.

Add/Drop Deadline: August 14, 2020 for fall students; August 31, 2020 for winter and spring students.

LLM Students: International students on F-1 student visas are required to have Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization; LL.M. students are not eligible for CPT.

Exam Type: Please refer to the Fall 2020 Tentative Exam Schedule, with paper option by permission.

The role of state attorneys general has dramatically expanded as these elected officials and their staff have become increasingly important actors in American jurisprudence .  They continue to make their mark in consumer protection, antitrust, civil rights, education, immigration, labor law, political corruption and environmental protection even as they tender daily legal advice that impacts the workings of state government. Working alone or in combination with or opposed to the federal government, their colleagues in other states or with businesses, unions and interest groups, the attorneys general are now major players in American jurisprudence.

This two credit course examines the core duties of attorneys general and reviews and critiques their authority and performance. The class will examine the means utilized by attorneys general in carrying out their responsibilities including their ethical responsibilities. It will also discuss the implications for federalism and separation of powers by exploring state relations with state and federal agencies that have parallel jurisdiction. Finally, the course will discuss the impact that interest groups and the media have on the office of attorney general. Attorneys general and their staff regularly visit the class.

Students admitted into the clinic must complete a security clearance for Massachusetts in advance of starting clinical work. Due to the security clearance, this clinic has early add/drop deadlines. Clinical students are also required to attend three to four additional non-credit evening seminars that are held on campus and are facilitated by the Assistant Attorney General intern coordinator. For additional information, please see the clinic's description.

Subject Areas: Government Structure & Function, Constitutional Law & Civil Rights, Disciplinary Perspectives & Law, Regulatory Law