What does an Attorney General do?

As the chief legal officer of the states, commonwealths and territories of the United States, the Attorneys General serve as counselors to their legislatures and state agencies and also as the "People's Lawyer" for all citizens. Originating in the mid-13th century in the office of England's "King's Attorney," the office had become, by the American Revolution, one of advisor to the Crown and to government agencies.

In the United States, as the individual states and territories developed their own procedures, common law, constitution state government agencies and legislatures, and as representatives of the public interest. While varying from one jurisdiction to the next due to statutory and constitutional mandates, typical powers of the Attorneys General include the authority to issue formal opinions to state agencies; act as public advocates in areas such as child enforcement, consumer protections, antitrust and utility regulation; propose legislation; enforce federal and state environmental laws; represent the state and state agencies before the state and federal courts; handle criminal appeals and serious statewide criminal prosecutions; institute civil suits on behalf of the state; represent the public's interests in charitable trust and solicitations; and operate victim compensation programs.

red logo