Why the Alaska Department of Law?
The Alaska Department of Law offers:
- Opportunities for legal practice with cutting edge issues such as natural resources, environment, fish and wildlife management, public lands, oil, gas, and mining, Alaska Native, and governmental matters including First Amendment and other constitutional areas;
- All levels and types of legal practice, including trial and appellate work in state and federal courts and administrative forums, transactional work, legislative and regulatory drafting, and general advice to agencies and governmental officials;
- Challenging work on matters that often are related to current events, make a real difference in people's lives, and impact the policies and direction of government;
- A collegial and supportive office where attorneys work in small sections but also enjoy the benefits of a large office with colleagues available for assistance and mentoring;
- A practice in which, even at the entry level, attorneys generally carry their own caseloads and present cases in court as a first or second chair;
- Employees of the Department of Law, the Public Defender Agency, and the Office of Public Advocacy, whose activities would constitute the practice of law under this chapter and under Alaska Bar Rules are required to obtain a license to practice law in Alaska no later than 10 months following the commencement of their employment (AS 08.08.210(d));
- The options of alternate work week and flex-time schedules; and
- Competitive public sector salary and benefits, including health and retirement.
Practicing Law in the Last Frontier
The Department of Law is part of the executive branch of Alaska's government. The Attorney General, who is appointed by the Governor, heads the department. The Attorney General serves as legal advisor to the Governor and all state agencies, prosecutes violations of state criminal laws, represents the state and its officers in civil matters, and enforces the consumer protection and unfair trade practices laws.
The Department has a Civil Division, supervised by the Deputy Attorney General, Ed Sniffen and a Criminal Division, supervised by the Deputy Attorney General, Robert Henderson. The Civil Division has 13 substantive sections, and the Criminal Division has an office for appeals and special prosecutions and 12 regional District Attorney's offices.
Ed Sniffen, Deputy Attorney General
The Civil Division, headed by Deputy Attorney General Ed Sniffen, has offices in Juneau, Fairbanks, Bethel, Kenai, Palmer, Nome, and Anchorage, where most of its attorneys reside. The division's 13 substantive sections are detailed below. The work varies according to section, but generally includes courtroom practice, motion work, appellate work, and advice to state agencies. Assistant Attorneys General represent state agencies; with few exceptions, Alaska's administrative agencies do not have their own counsel. Assistant Attorneys General are allowed to practice law for ten months while seeking admission to the Alaska Bar.
The Civil Division of the Department of Law provides legal counsel to the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. It defends and prosecutes civil litigation to which the state is a party.
Child Protection. Advises the Department of Health and Social Services and the Office of Children's Services. Provides legal advice and representation in child protection cases.
Commercial, Fair Business & Child Support. Advises and represents the Departments of Labor, Revenue, Education, and Community and Economic Development. Provides legal services on financial, real estate, commercial matters, and regulatory matters, including the Permanent Fund dividend, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, and the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. Protects the public through work with professional licensing, banking, securities, and corporations. Enforces consumer protection and antitrust laws.
Environmental Law. Advises and represents the Department of Environmental Conservation. Investigates, defends, and prosecutes claims regarding contaminated sites. Provides legal advice on environmental matters, including reimbursement of oil spill-related costs and expenditure of restoration funds.
Human Services. Advises and represents the Department of Health and Social Services on matters involving adult protection, mental health commitment, public assistance, Medicaid services, foster and childcare licensing, and public health.
Information and Project Support. Advises the department and other agencies on legal issues regarding the management, interagency and intergovernmental exchange, and public disclosure of information and non-electronic and electronic records.
Labor and State Affairs. Provides legal advice and represents state agencies on matters including labor relations, elections, governmental management, civil rights, retirement programs, procurement, homeland security, and Medicaid rate disputes.
Legislation and Regulations. Provides legal advice and review for constitutional and statutory requirements in the preparation of state legislation and regulations, both civil and criminal. The Legislative Liaison oversees all departmental interaction with the legislature.
Natural Resources. Litigates disputes involving the state's proprietary interests in its oil, gas, and mining resources and defending against challenges to state oil and gas lease sale programs. The section protects the state's title to resource-rich lands; advises the governor on matters involving the state's natural resources; represents state agencies in the investigation, defense, and prosecution of claims concerning the state's oil and gas royalty and taxation programs; advises the Boards of Fisheries and Game, and provides legal advice to state agencies concerning the development or use of state water, land, oil, gas, and mineral resources.
Opinions, Appeals, and Ethics. Oversees all Civil Division appellate work and is responsible for oversight of all Attorney General opinions. It is also responsible for interpretation and enforcement of the Executive Branch Ethics Act (AS 39.52) and coordinates the department's work on Alaska Native matters.
Regulatory Affairs and Public Advocacy. Represents the public interest in utility and pipeline carrier proceedings regarding rates and services before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and provides policy analysis on related matters.
Special Litigation. The Special Litigation Section was created to develop litigation expertise in the Civil Division of the Department of Law and to employ that expertise-in collaboration with subject matter sections-to handle high-profile, expedited, or complicated litigation.
Torts and Workers' Compensation. Provides legal defense in tort and workers' compensation cases filed against the state, its agencies, and employees. Serves as legal counsel to the Division of Risk Management.
Transportation. Represents and advises the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and other state agencies regarding construction, buildings, highways, ferries, airports, harbors, communications facilities, and other public works.
Robert Henderson, Deputy Attorney General
The Criminal Division, headed by Deputy Attorney General Robert Henderson, has offices in the following locations: Anchorage, Bethel, Dillingham, Fairbanks, Juneau, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Nome, Palmer, and Sitka. In addition to prosecuting crime, some of the Criminal Division's attorneys provide advice to the Departments of Corrections and Public Safety. Assistant District Attorneys are typically assigned to the Division's larger offices for training under experienced prosecutors, and then may spend time prosecuting in Alaska's smaller communities. Assistant District Attorneys are allowed to practice law for ten months while seeking admission to the Alaska Bar.
The legal system in Alaska is highly unified. Alaska has no county courts or county prosecutors. All prosecutions under state criminal law are handled by prosecutors in the Department of Law.
Central Office. This unit is responsible for policy development and the administration of the Criminal Division offices. It provides civil representation and advice to state criminal justice agencies including the Alaska State Troopers, the state prison system, and the parole board. The Central Office also assists in drafting legislation, regulations, policies, and procedures.
District Attorney Offices. Twelve District Attorney offices are located throughout the state. The District Attorney offices are responsible for prosecuting all adult felonies and most misdemeanors in the state. They also handle all juvenile delinquency prosecutions. The geographical vastness of Alaska requires that prosecutors travel to remote locations. Victim-Witness Paralegals in each office provide litigation support, as well as fulfilling the state's responsibilities regarding victim's rights.
Office of Criminal Appeals. The Office of Criminal Appeals represents the state in criminal appellate proceedings and state and federal post-conviction and habeas corpus proceedings.
Office of Special Prosecutions. The Office of Special Prosecutions focuses on environmental crime, child support enforcement, welfare fraud, PFD and tax fraud, Medicaid provider fraud, cold case prosecutions, selected fish and game prosecutions, white collar crime and other special prosecutions. It also handles civil litigation challenging statutes related to criminal justice, for instance sex offender registration, or victims' rights.
How to Apply
Individuals interested in applying for a position as an Assistant Attorney General or Assistant District Attorney should submit a resume that includes a complete history of education and professional work experience, a cover letter, a comprehensive writing sample, and at least three references. Applicants should include in the cover letter the position or positions for which they are applying and their preference as to geographic locations.
Applications for the Civil Division should be sent to:
Office of the Attorney General
1031 W. 4th Avenue Suite 200
Anchorage, AK 99501
Applications for the Criminal Division should be sent to:
Department of Law
Criminal Division Central Office
P.O. Box 110300
Juneau, AK 99811-0300
The Alaska Department of Law is an equal opportunity employer and complies with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Applicants who need accommodation to apply may call Relay Alaska at 1-800-770-8973, or the Department of Law. For Civil Division positions, call Melanie Ferguson at (907) 269-5102. For Criminal Division positions, call Valerie Robinson at (907) 465-4038.
Applicants are encouraged to solicit information about the Department of Law from any of its employees. However, the state will not be bound by any offer of employment or any commitment as to terms and conditions of employment or as to the application of departmental policies, if not made in writing by an authorized representative of the Attorney General. Final hiring decisions are made by the Attorney General.