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

Posted June 1, 2017:

Authority of Individual Members of Congress to Conduct Oversight of the Executive Branch (May 1, 2017)

Posted January 27, 2017:

Constitutional Concerns Presented by Proposed Orderly Liquidation Authority Panel (Apr. 19, 2010)

Posted January 20, 2017:

Application of the Anti-Nepotism Statute to a Presidential Appointment in the White House Office (Jan. 20, 2017)

Posted January 19, 2017:

Application of the Recommendations Clause to Section 802 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (Aug. 25, 2016)

Posted January 19, 2017:

Whether the Review Described in Section 4 of Executive Order 13497 Remains Pending for Purposes of Section 7 of That Order (Aug. 28, 2009)

Posted December 1, 2016:

Applicability of the National Emergencies Act to Statutes That Do Not Expressly Require the President to Declare a National Emergency (Aug. 24, 2016)

Posted August 2, 2016:

Whether a Military Officer May Continue on Terminal Leave After He Is Appointed to a Federal Civilian Position Covered by 10 U.S.C. § 973(b)(2)(A) (Mar. 24, 2016)

Posted July 30, 2016:

Authority to Permit Part-Time Employees to Work Regularly Scheduled Workweeks of 33 to 39 Hours (Dec. 31, 2015)

Posted July 28, 2016:

Authority of the Chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board to Disclose Performance Appraisals of Senior Executive Service Employees (May 21, 2015)

Posted May 2, 2016:

Authority of the Department of Justice to Disclose Statutorily Protected Materials to Its Inspector General in Light of Section 540 of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Apr. 27, 2016)

Posted April 21, 2016:

Interpretation of Article 17 Bis of the US-EU Air Transport Agreement (Apr. 14, 2016)

Posted March 18, 2016:

The Authority of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to Order a Federal Agency to Pay a Monetary Award to Remedy a Breach of a Settlement Agreement (Aug. 13, 2014)

Residence Requirement for Assistant United States Attorneys Under 28 U.S.C. § 545(a) (Nov. 20, 2012)

Whether Individuals May Be Required to Provide Basic Identifying Information in Order to Access the Financial Disclosure Reports Made Available on Agency Websites During the Period Governed by Section 11(a) of the STOCK Act (Aug. 22, 2012)

Whether the Department of Health and Human Services May Provide the Government Accountability Office Access to Information in the National Directory of New Hires (Aug. 23, 2011)

Census Confidentiality and the PATRIOT Act (Jan. 4, 2010)

Posted July 23, 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 (July 20, 2015)

Posted November 20, 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 (Nov. 19, 2014)

Posted July 25, 2014:

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

General Information Office of Legal Counsel

Curtis E. Gannon
Acting Assistant Attorney General


Office of Legal Counsel
(202) 514-2051