The Office of the Legal Adviser: The State Department Lawyer and Foreign Affairs
American Journal of International Law, Vol. 56, No.3, pp. 633-684, July 1962
28 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2010
Date Written: 1962
As “house counsel” to the U.S. Department of State, the Office of the Legal Adviser exerts a major influence on the conduct of international relations by the United States and, in particular, the views and policies of the U.S. Government concerning international law. It also plays a significant role with respect to a broad range of domestic law matters related to the international dealings of the U.S. and its citizens. Nevertheless, few people are aware of the Office’s importance and what it does or, more generally, of the ways in which foreign office lawyers, such as those in the office of the Legal Adviser, serve to shape, develop and implement international law.
This article, written by an attorney in the Office of Legal Adviser, is intended to provide more widespread public knowledge in these respects. It describes the organization, functions and operations of the Office as of the time of its writing; the Office’s role within the Department of State; its relations with private practitioners, other government agencies and the courts; and the ways in which the Office and its attorneys influence U.S. foreign policy and both domestic and international law. More broadly, the article seeks to focus greater attention on the center of the international law stage – the actual operations of foreign offices and their legal staffs – and to bring the attention of practitioners and scholars to bear on the practical procedures, problems and accommodations involved in the process of attempting to subject nations’ interactions and inter-relations to the governance of rules.
This article is also included in L. Gross (Ed): INTERNATIONAL LAW IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (1969), the American Society of International Law’s Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology of Selected Articles published in American Journal of International Law during that period.
Keywords: office of the legal adviser, state department lawyers, foreign office legal advisers, international law, U.S. and international law, international relations, international law and foreign policy, U.S. foreign relations, U.S. foreign policy, U.S. foreign affairs
JEL Classification: K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation