Attorney General Details

The Judiciary Act created the Attorney General role in 1789 in Washington D.C. The Act to Establish the Department of Justice, legislated by Congress in June 1870, settled for D.C.'s Attorney General as the chief of the Department of Justice. They would also be in charge of supervising all of the United States Attorneys and the U.S. Marshals.

As a chief legal officer of their territory or state, the Attorney General's duties are usually extensive. They act as representatives of the citizens' concerns and as advisers to multiple government offices. It is also the Attorney General's responsibility to enforces the state law. An Attorney General is usually elected for a four-year term, but a governor can appoint them in some cases.

Some of the main duties of an Attorney General include:

  • Suggest new legislation
  • Release formal points of view to state organizations
  • Support different areas, such as the enforcement of children support law and environmental laws
  • Manage victim indemnity program
  • Deal with criminal prosecutions, and appeals
  • Represent the state and its offices before the court

Real World Example of Attorney General

The Office of the Attorney General that is related to the Department of Justice (DOJ), in Washington D.C., is the one with the most important roles. The main goal of this Office is to manage and conduct the Department of Justice and all the agencies within it. The agencies under the Justice department are the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Prisons, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, among others.

The DC Attorney General has other main responsibilities. They act on behalf of the United States in legal circumstances; provide opinions and advises on legal affairs to all the chiefs of executive departments of the government, to the Cabinet and the President; act or coordinate the representation of the U.S. Government in all courts, domestic or abroad; act as a counselor to the President in matters of federal judicial positions and at the Department of Justice.

Furthermore, there is the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, created in May 1950. The Deputy AG assists the Attorney General in generating and enacting department procedures and programs. It also helps by providing overall management and guidance to every organizational unit of the DOJ. Keeping it going, here, in 1977, the Office of the Associate Attorney General (OASG) was established. The Associate works to support both the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General on the elaboration and instauration of the programs and policies of the Department of Justice.

Attorney General vs. Attorney

While an Attorney General is someone who acts as a chief legal officer of a state or territory, an attorney, on the other hand, is someone who has the permission of practicing law within the jurisdiction where they have passed the bar examination. The bar examination is an exam you apply for once you obtain a Juris Doctor degree from a law school. An attorney can also be admitted to bars in other states after practicing law for a period where they passed the first bar examination.

The main activities of an attorney are to give legal counsel, represent clients before a court or any other circumstance necessary, and draft legal papers.