As head of the Department of Law, the Attorney General is both the “People's Lawyer” and the State's chief legal officer. As the “People's Lawyer,” the Attorney General serves as the guardian of the legal rights of the citizens of New York, its organizations and its natural resources. In fulfilling the duties of the State’s chief legal counsel, the Attorney General not only advises the Executive branch of State government, but also defends actions and proceedings on behalf of the State.
The Attorney General serves all New Yorkers in numerous matters affecting their daily lives. The Attorney General's Office is charged with the statutory and common law powers to protect consumers and investors, charitable donors, the public health and environment, civil rights, and the rights of wage-earners and businesses across the State.
The Attorney General's authority also includes the activities and investigations of the State Organized Crime Task Force and Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. While the Attorney General acts independently of the Governor, the Governor or a state agency may request the Attorney General to undertake specific criminal investigations and prosecutions.
The legal functions of the Department of Law are divided primarily into five major divisions: Appeals and Opinions, State Counsel, Criminal Justice, Economic Justice and Social Justice.
Over 650 Assistant Attorneys General and over 1,700 employees, including forensic accountants, legal assistants, scientists, investigators and support staff serve in the Office of the Attorney General in many locations across New York State.