Career Development

Attorney General Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

The attorney general is the chief legal officer of a state. He or she is responsible for representing the state in all legal matters. They sometimes prosecute criminal cases on behalf of the state.

The attorney general is the chief legal officer of a state. He or she is responsible for representing the state in all legal matters. They sometimes prosecute criminal cases on behalf of the state. 

An attorney general is typically elected by the people of the state. The term varies from state to state, but it’s usually four years long. The attorney general also serves as a member of the governor’s cabinet and is usually one of the most visible members of his or her administration.

The role of an attorney general varies widely from state to state, depending on the state laws and constitution. Some attorney generals focus on consumer protection issues, while others handle cases involving major crimes or environmental protection.

A successful attorney general must be able to communicate effectively with people from many different backgrounds and hold strong opinions about controversial issues. He or she must also be able to think quickly on his or her feet and find solutions to problems under pressure.

Attorney General Job Duties

Typical duties and responsibilities of attorneys general include:

  • Enforcing and representing state laws and regulations in civil and criminal cases
  • Managing the state’s law enforcement agencies; appointing, investigating, or disciplining officers; reviewing their reports; and attending public police functions as representatives of the state
  • Representing the state in trial courts as either a prosecutor or as a defender of those accused of crimes
  • Providing guidance to local officials as to which state laws are applicable in their communities; answering questions about how to interpret them; intervening when necessary to protect citizens’ rights
  • Providing information to citizens regarding the state government or specific programs within it
  • Assisting in legislative matters by drafting bills, proposing amendments to existing laws, and advising on constitutional law concerns
  • Advocating on behalf of the state regarding issues such as social justice reform bills under consideration before Congress which would impact how criminal offenders are sentenced (e.g., mandatory minimum sentencing)

Attorney General Salary

The median annual wage for attorneys general is $115,804. The highest earners are bringing home more than $175,000 per year.

Attorney General Skills

An attorney general needs to have a lot of different skills. They need the following:

Leadership skills: An attorney general must be able to lead a large group of people and manage a lot of responsibilities.

Research skills: An attorney general must be able to research laws and legal cases in order to provide advice to the government.

Judgment skills: An attorney general must be able to make decisions about issues that are often controversial and may affect millions of people.

Ability to communicate: The attorney general must be able to clearly communicate his or her thoughts, feelings, and ideas in both written and oral form.

Knowledge of the law: The attorney general is responsible for upholding the laws of the state or country they serve. Therefore, they must know how to interpret them correctly.

Analytical skills: The job requires the ability to analyze information and make logical conclusions.

Attorney General Work Environment

A job as Attorney General can be extremely demanding. The work hours are typically long and often irregular, with no set schedule. Attorney Generals have to spend a lot of time preparing for their cases, so there is little time off during the weekdays. This job can be very stressful at times, as it involves confronting individuals or companies accused of breaking laws and regulations. Many attorney generals also give speeches to groups and the media on issues such as consumer protection and constitutional rights.

Some attorney generals spend a lot of time traveling and meeting with people and businesses in different parts of the state. They often travel by plane and sometimes stay overnight in hotels.

Attorney General Career Advancement

Someone in the position of Attorney General can advance into US Attorney, federal judge, or Attorney General of another state. If you’re interested in pursuing one of these opportunities, it’s important that you leave a successful footprint, and consider furthering your education.

Due to the influential and senior nature of the Attorney General position, one could also become a politician, a writer, or a professor.

Attorney General Trends

Here are two trends influencing how attorney generals work. Attorney generals will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Increased Importance of Cybersecurity

In today’s increasingly connected world, cybercrime is a growing threat that all businesses need to be aware of. As a result, attorney generals have been charged with protecting citizens from fraud and theft as well as maintaining the safety of sensitive data collected by companies. In order to combat this growing issue, attorneys general must stay up-to-date on the latest technological trends so they can properly protect consumers.

More Transparency

More recently, attorney generals have also become increasingly concerned with cases of police brutality, especially after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

As a result, attorney generals are increasingly involved in trying to keep local police departments accountable for their actions. The increasing influence of AGs on these issues has led to the recent rise of attorney generals as leaders who hold officials accountable for bad behavior or policy that may be harmful to communities.


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