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States Department of Commerce
Office of General Counsel
Welcome to the Office of the General Counsel of the Department of Commerce.
The General Counsel is the chief legal officer for the Department and
legal advisor to the Secretary, Secretarial Officers, and other officers
of the Department, including heads of operating units.
General Counsel, assisted by a Deputy General Counsel, provides direction
to 14 different legal offices. He directs the operations of ten offices
that report directly to him, including three Assistant General Counsels
and seven Chief Counsels. The former provide legal advice and services
to all officers and bureaus of the Department across organizational lines
on matters under their responsibility. Six of the Chief Counsels provide
programmatic legal support to offices in specific bureaus, while the seventh
Chief Counsel administers a special program that provides commercial law
assistance to foreign officials and private sector persons in support
of economic development goals. The General Counsel provides legal and
policy direction to four additional legal offices, which receive their
funding and personnel allocations from their bureaus.
The Office of the General Counsel has a diverse legal practice, based
on the wide variety of issues in which the Department of Commerce is involved.
Commerce attorneys supervise the development of the Department’s
legislative and regulatory programs, defend decisions of Commerce officials
against judicial challenge, and advise agency officials on personnel,
procurement and budget matters. They represent the Department in labor-management
proceedings and are responsible for interpreting Federal ethics laws and
general administrative laws. Commerce attorneys assist the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration in carrying out U.S. ocean, coastal and
atmospheric protection and research programs. They resolve legal issues
concerning the collection and dissemination of economic and technical
information for the Economic and Statistics Administration, including
the Census Bureau and the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Commerce attorneys
help the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to
implement U.S. telecommunications policy. They work with the International
Trade Administration to ensure the effective implementation of the U.S.
import relief laws, such as antidumping and countervailing duty laws.
They work on programs to enable American business to compete more effectively
in world markets through efforts to lower trade barriers and to develop
sound commercial legal systems.
Commerce lawyers assist the Patent and Trademark Office by interpreting
U.S. laws that protect trademarks and invention. They work with the Bureau
of Industry & Security to enforce laws that control exports for reasons
of national security, foreign policy and non-proliferation of weapons
of mass destruction. They advise the Economic Development Administration,
which provides grants to distressed areas to stimulate their economies.
Commerce attorneys aid the Minority Business Development Agency in implementing
national programs to assist minority businesses.
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