The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) is responsible for providing a wide range of legal services to all agencies of the Department. The Office has four major areas of responsibility.
- First, the Office plays a major role in the Department's legislative activities by analyzing legislation impacting the Department, helping prepare testimony presented by Departmental at congressional committee hearings, and drafting proposed legislation.
- Second, the Office manages the Department's ethics program by providing advice and training and by administering the financial disclosure requirements.
- Third, OLC provides legal advice on a number of areas relating to government organization and operations, most notably administrative law and procedure.
- The fourth area within OLC is the Honors Attorney Program, which provides challenging professional opportunities for outstanding law school graduates. Honors Program attorneys work in the Solicitor's Office either at the Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C., or in one of seven Regional Offices, gaining exposure to a broad range of substantive legal work in one of the government's preeminent legal offices. More information about the Honors Attorney Program, including how to apply for the Program, can be found at: www.dol.gov/agencies/sol/careers/honors-program
In the legislative area, OLC has:
- Provided extensive legal advice and significant assistance in the drafting and review of final regulations implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the first comprehensive legislative reform of the nation's job training system in over 15 years.
- Drafted and cleared for formal transmittal to the Congress a bill to make important changes to the federal-state unemployment compensation system to enhance program integrity by reducing improper payments, improving collections of benefit overpayments and required employer contributions, and improving State administration.
- Assisted in the drafting and editing of nearly twenty Congressional testimonies or statements for the record by senior Departmental officials, including the Secretary of Labor, at congressional committee hearings covering significant policy concerns of the Administration and the Congress, and also managed the process of clearing those documents through the Department of Labor and the Office of Management and Budget.
In the ethics area, OLC has:
- Provided an ethics webinar series for one of the Department's major agencies.
- Produced a monthly one-page succinct, topical, and engaging newsletter for all DOL employees.
- Provided ethics briefings for senior Department officials at regularly scheduled senior management meetings.
- Developed an innovative ethics "pledge" for members of the Department's administrative adjudicatory boards.
- Provided advice to senior officials and Department employees throughout the year on the rules under the Hatch Act and other legal authorities for involvement in political activities.
In the administrative law area, OLC has:
- Advised the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, and other attorneys in the Office of the Solicitor on potential implications of the Administrative Procedure Act during rollouts of major regulations. OLC reviewed rollout materials, including social media posts, talking points, and videos.
- Developed best practice documents for complex, topical issues facing all rulemaking teams at DOL.
- Organized annual training sessions on administrative law issues for DOL staff, including a comprehensive overview of judicial deference to federal agencies.
What We Do
The Office's attorneys and professional staff handle the following types of projects and assignments:
- Analyze and prepare official views on legislation and Executive Orders that may affect the Department's programs, activities, and operations.
- Draft and clear testimony to be presented by Departmental officials appearing at congressional committee hearings.
- Draft legislation to accomplish Administration and Departmental objectives.
- Provide advice to all Departmental employees on ethics laws and regulations, as well as the Hatch Act and other rules about employee participation in political activity.
- Provide training for all Departmental employees on the full range of ethics topics.
- Administer the financial disclosure program for the Department.
- Provide advice and prepare memorandum on a wide range of administrative law and regulatory procedure topics.
Staff attorneys are primarily assigned to either the legislative or ethics areas, but they are encouraged and given opportunities to work in all areas within OLC's responsibility. There is very limited travel associated with the work of the office.
DOL Agencies Supported
The Office works with all Departmental component agencies and offices, as well as all Divisions in the Solicitor's Office. The most frequent contacts are with the:
- Office of the Secretary
- Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs
- Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy
Outside of the Department of Labor, the Office works closely with these other agencies:
- The Office of Management and Budget, which coordinates the development and approval of the Administration's official positions on pending legislation or other legislative matters
- The Office of Government Ethics
- The Office of Special Counsel (for Hatch Act matters)
200 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20210
Peter J. Constantine
Counsel for Ethics
Sabrina A. Gray
Counsel for Legislative Affairs
Jill M. Otte
Patricia A. Morgan
Honors Program Director
Michelle S. Brown