The Role of the State Attorney General

The Role of the State Attorney General

Mr. James Tierney
Spring 2013 course
M 1:10pm - 3:10pm in WCC Room 4059
2 classroom credits

The role of state attorneys general has dramatically expanded as these elected officials and their staff have become increasingly important actors in American jurisprudence. In the aftermath of their historic $27 Billion settlement against major banks and the litigation against the tobacco industry, attorneys general 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 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. We 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.

This class offers an optional fall or spring clinical with the Massachusetts State Attorney General's Office in Boston. Up to 6 clinical spots are available in each semester. Clinical placement is also possible for states other than Massachusetts.

Students admitted into the clinical must complete a security clearance in advance of starting clinical work. Due to the security clearance, this clinic has early add/drop deadlines of August 10, 2012 for the fall clinic and January 7, 2013 for the spring clinic. 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. Students are strongly recommended to set aside 15 hours per week (3 credits) in their schedule for clinical work. For additional information, please visit the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs website for more information.

Subject Areas: Government Structure & Function, Procedure & Practice