Office of Legal Counsel

Office of Legal Counsel

Office of Legal Counsel wooden door sign

About The Office

By delegation from the Attorney General, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel provides authoritative legal advice to the President and all the Executive Branch agencies.  The Office drafts legal opinions of the Attorney General and also provides its own written opinions and oral advice in response to requests from the Counsel to the President, the various agencies of the Executive Branch, and offices within the Department.  Such requests typically deal with legal issues of particular complexity and importance or about which two or more agencies are in disagreement.  The Office also is responsible for providing legal advice to the Executive Branch on all constitutional questions and reviewing pending legislation for constitutionality.

All executive orders and proclamations proposed to be issued by the President are reviewed by the Office of Legal Counsel for form and legality, as are various other matters that require the President's formal approval.

In addition to serving as, in effect, outside counsel for the other agencies of the Executive Branch, the Office of Legal Counsel also plays a special role within the Department itself.  It reviews all proposed orders of the Attorney General and all regulations requiring the Attorney General’s approval.  It also performs a variety of special assignments referred by the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General.

The Office of Legal Counsel is not authorized to give legal advice to private persons.

New from OLC

July 20, 2015
The Department of Justice Inspector General’s Access to Information Protected by the Federal Wiretap Act, Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and Section 626 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act
(added July 23, 2015)

November 19, 2014
The Department of Homeland Security’s Authority to Prioritize Removal of Certain Aliens Unlawfully Present in the United States and to Defer Removal of Others
(added November 20, 2014)

July 15, 2014
Immunity of the Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach From Congressional Subpoena
(added July 25, 2014)

August 23, 2013
Competitive Bidding Requirements Under the Federal-Aid Highway Program
(added March 13, 2014)

July 2013
The first volume of a new supplemental series of OLC opinions (Op. O.L.C. Supp.) is available in its entirety as a PDF on the Opinions by Volume page. As explained there and in the body of the publication itself, volume 1 of this series contains a number of important opinions written by OLC (or its predecessor entities in the Department of Justice) from 1933 to 1977, when OLC first began publishing its primary series (Op. O.L.C.). The purpose of the supplemental series is to fill in certain gaps in the historical record and to make available to the public additional OLC materials that may not have been appropriate to release publicly when issued to the client but with the passage of time have become publishable.

May 3, 2013
Whether the Millennium Challenge Corporation Should Be Considered an “Agency” for Purposes of the Open Meeting Requirements of the Sunshine Act
(added September 22, 2014)

February 4, 2013
Availability of Appropriations for Social Security Administration Grant Programs Following the Expiration of Authorizations of Appropriations
(added September 22, 2014)

January 9, 2013
Whether the Peace Corps Director May Certify Peace Corps Response Volunteers for Noncompetitive Eligibility for Federal Employment Under Executive Order 11103
(added September 22, 2014)

General Information Office of Legal Counsel

Karl Remón Thompson
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General



Office of Legal Counsel
(202) 514-2051