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Job Description of an Attorney General

Vijith Menon
If defending issues and causes has always been your niche, then an attorney general may be just the job for you. This post discusses the traits and duties that pertain to this job.

Did You Know?

An attorney general is only one of the four important cabinet ministers not to be referred to as 'Secretary'.
The United States Government has been a champion in taking up issues and causes that no other country would volunteer for. Some decisions that are taken by the President and his office are frowned upon, as often decisions taken are by any one wielding authority.
You need someone with worldly know-how and technical expertise to defend the Office. This is where the attorney general plays a huge role, and is often considered the Vizier of the government.
The history of an attorney general dates back to colonial times, as his main responsibility pertained to defending the King and his subjects. He was charged with protecting the rights of the public as well as the government.
The appointment of an attorney general was passed due to the Judiciary Act of 1789, and signed into law by President George Washington. With the establishment of the Department of Justice in 1870, the attorney general holds the largest office of the judicial branch, and is responsible for maintaining the rights of the country and its citizens.

Job Description

▣ The attorney general has the power to appoint his deputy, and has authority over all the attorney generals of the states.

▣ He can give opinions and advice to the President of the U.S. on legal matters, as well as the executive departments and agencies.

▣ He can make recommendations concerning the appointments of U.S. Marshals and attorneys in the state.
▣ He supervises the following departments which fall under the Department of Justice -
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  • Bureau of Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) - also known as ATF or BATF
  • Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
  • Office of Justice Programs (OJP)
  • Office of the U.S. Attorneys (USAO)
  • U.S. Marshals Service (USMS)
▣ He has a major responsibility of defending the President and the U.S. Government in the Supreme Court on all legal matters, in all courts, whether foreign or domestic.

▣ He is aided in all legal matters by the Deputy Attorney General and Associate Attorney General.
▣ He serves in the Cabinet of the President of the United States. Michael Mukasey was appointed the Attorney General during George W Bush's presidential reign.
▣ He can represent the whole U.S. government, or a single representative in court.

▣ He is responsible for investigating and prosecuting federal crimes against the government.

▣ He can also propose new laws that can protect the rights of citizens, prevent unfair consumer practices, and improve the lives of the common citizen.


▣ An attorney general needs to be a highly qualified attorney, who has been working for a minimum of 10 years.
▣ The post is given only on the appointment of the President of the United States. During Barack Obama's tenure, Loretta Lynch was established as the Attorney General and the successor of Eric Holder.

Required Skills

▣ He needs to be intelligent as well as legal savvy to work out the intricacies of the government.

▣ He must be involved in civic, legal, and volunteer endeavors, as well as have a well-rounded education.
▣ Since the post is mostly political, it's important to have a network of allies.

▣ He can enforce and propose federal laws aimed to strengthen the safety and welfare of the citizens.
Although the attorney general has power, he can also be tried for treason, bribery, and other crimes committed by the government. As of 2018, The US has had 84 attorney generals.