Government Lawyers in the Trump Administration

89 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2017 Last revised: 16 Feb 2017

See all articles by W. Bradley Wendel

W. Bradley Wendel

Cornell University - School of Law

Date Written: January 31, 2017


The words and actions of candidate, President-Elect, and now President Donald Trump indicate that this Administration will aggressively seek to use state power with little regard for the rule of law. A great deal has been written about the constitutional and administrative law regulating inter- and intra-branch separation of powers. However, there is no comprehensive legal and theoretical analysis of government lawyers as lawyers, subject to regulation by state rules of professional conduct and other positive legal standards. This Article engages with numerous contested issues in the law of lawyering to provide a constructive legal and ethical conception of government legal advisors. In practical terms, it may serve as a source of guidance for lawyers in the new administration, or as a roadmap for discipline by lawyer regulators. More theoretically, it defends a conception of the rule of law as a practice of reason-giving, not dependent upon legal objectivity or determinacy.

Keywords: Rule of law, professionalism, legal ethics, government lawyers, legal advising

Suggested Citation

Wendel, W. Bradley, Government Lawyers in the Trump Administration (January 31, 2017). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-04, Available at SSRN: or

W. Bradley Wendel (Contact Author)

Cornell University - School of Law ( email )

108 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
6072559719 (Phone)

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