State attorneys general are unique constitutional officers in the U.S. legal and political landscape. With sweeping powers to launch investigations and bring actions on behalf of states or consumers, state attorneys general can have a profound impact on corporations, foundations, individuals and investors. Moreover, most attorneys general are popularly elected, with direct electoral accountability for their actions, unlike nonelected federal prosecutors or regulators.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is well positioned to meet the particular challenges clients face in working with attorneys general. Our deep and experienced team of litigators frequently handles civil investigative demands, criminal subpoenas and administrative matters brought by state attorneys general. With one of the nation’s most respected public law and policy practices, Akin Gump can also help clients navigate the political and public relations dimension of state attorney general actions.
We provide a nationwide platform for engaging state attorneys general through our domestic offices, from California and Texas to New York and Washington, D.C. Our team includes former prosecutors and former assistant attorneys general, in addition to lawyers and advisors with deep state and federal political experience. Our lawyers are engaged with national organizations of attorneys general. We have represented clients who were targets of a single state attorney general investigation, and we have also had experience with concurrent attorney general investigations involving multiple states—including one lawyer who served as New York’s lead negotiator for the landmark multistate tobacco settlement.
Our representations have involved clients from myriad industries, from charitable foundations to oil and gas companies, financial firms and major insurance providers to nutritional supplement and food corporations. Our approach to representation brings together lawyers and advisors from our government investigations and white collar defense, public law and policy, and litigation practices, all of whom work seamlessly with clients to assist them on state attorneys general matters.
Investigations, Enforcement Actions and Litigation
Our lawyers frequently handle responses to attorneys general requests for information, whether informal or through compulsory process. We also assist our clients to prepare for and respond to issues that might arise from a state attorney general investigation. For example, we routinely conduct internal investigations of issues underlying state attorneys general investigations or enforcement actions. In many instances, clients may find themselves facing state attorneys general investigations as they simultaneously respond to Congress or defend against civil litigation or an administrative action from regulators such as the Federal Trade Commission or the Securities and Exchange Commission. Our lawyers have experience with these kinds of multifaceted, high stakes environments.
Examples of the experience of our lawyers include the representation of:
- the Utah House of Representatives in a corruption investigation of the state’s attorney general
- the chief financial officer of a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)-listed company in connection with insider trading and a false disclosure investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office
- a large publicly traded company in an investigation by the New York Attorney General relating to high-frequency trading
- an electric utility company in consolidated complaint proceedings filed at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by the Connecticut Attorney General, the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control and the Connecticut Office of Consumer Goods
- a mutual fund in enforcement proceedings brought by all 50 states in conjunction with proceedings brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc., which was coordinated by state attorneys general and administered by the insurance and/or securities commissions of each of the states
- an investment fund regarding its options activities in an Oregon Attorney General investigation into its affiliate regarding lack of institutional controls and maintenance of trust funds
- a healthcare company in a matter involving civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, conspiracy and antitrust claims in multiple parallel proceedings from federal investigators and a state attorney general
- companies in False Claims Act investigations and responding to criminal investigative demands before the Texas and Virginia attorneys general
- a national retail company in a Texas Attorney General investigation
- a large refiner of petroleum products in price manipulation investigations by state attorneys general from Texas, Florida, California, Missouri, Arizona and Kentucky, as well as the Federal Trade Commission
- food, dietary supplement and over-the-counter drug companies in cases brought against them by the California Attorney General’s Office.
Akin Gump lawyers and advisors also provide skilled guidance and strategic direction to engage state attorneys general outside the investigations and enforcement arena. In many instances, clients look to state attorneys general as potential allies in helping to stop improper actions of competitors, or as potential amici in appellate cases. We are able to leverage our extensive knowledge and relationships with nationwide political leaders to help our clients meet their objectives. Our lawyers and advisors have a strong working knowledge of state politics, with experience in counseling, negotiations and administrative representation in matters involving state attorneys general.
We engage attorneys generals and other state officials to:
- educate state attorneys general regarding client or sector issues
- offer factual and legal background that can help reduce the need for adverse legal actions
- counteract unlawful or improper actions by state agencies
- solicit support for legislative or judicial outcomes.
We work with our clients to cultivate constructive relationships with state attorneys general and their staff, and through participation in various attorney general organizations.