About the General Counsel’s Office
The General Counsel provides legal services to the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State. The General Counsel does not offer legal advice to citizens, businesses or other government agencies. Among her other duties, the General Counsel:
- Provides legal services, research, interpretation and advice to the Secretary of State and the Department’s management, supervisors and employees.
- Receives service of process for the Department (G.S. §1A-1, Rule 4(j)(4)).
- Oversees rulemaking for the Department.
- Serves as Chief Records Officer for records retention purposes.
- Coordinates litigation.
- Drafts legal documents, reviews and negotiates contracts and Memoranda of Understanding.
- Coordinates public records request responses.
No Legal Advice to the Public
The office also provides information in response to questions from agency staff, other government agencies, and the public. However, neither the office nor any of our employees can provide legal advice to members of the public.
The North Carolina State Bar is the agency that regulates attorneys. The State Bar’s standards for lawyers state that lawyers can only give legal advice in an attorney-client relationship. Therefore, we only provide legal advice to the Department and its staff regarding official business. If you need legal advice, please go to the “Where can I find other help?” page.
Legal Interns, Externs and Pro Bono Opportunities
We value and support legal internships, externships and law student pro bono projects.
However, as a small agency with a large mission, our resources, including attorney supervisory time, are limited. Therefore, in order to effectively use those resources, we only propose and accept legal internships, externships and law student pro bono projects when we have:
- Substantive project(s) that will benefit the Department and the citizens we serve.
- Attorney supervisor availability.
- Projects that will provide learning experiences for the law student(s).
Each legal intern is required to sign a confidentiality agreement and a volunteer agreement. If an intern will use departmental information technology, an IT agreement must also be signed.
We provide each intern with a work plan at the beginning of the internship and with an evaluation at the conclusion of the internship.
For Law Students
Please check with your law school to see if we have posted a project. If we have posted a project, you should go through your law school to contact us about the project.
There is an official State Internship Program in which many State agencies participate. You can find more information about the program here.
For Law Schools
When we have both substantive projects and attorney supervisory availability, we gladly take law students on as interns, externs and pro bono project researchers.
It is our understanding that law schools have different approaches (and names) for types of experiential learning that they provide to law students. We do not try to keep up with all the ways you may try to link students to government agencies for such experiential learning.
If a law student will be approved by the law school to receive course credit for working with us, please provide us with information about any obligations we will have that would not apply to a non-credit internship.
Resources permitting, we are also available occasionally to meet with groups of students to talk about the work we do for the citizens of North Carolina. Some of our attorneys also participate in NC Bar Association Section events for law students.
Ann B. Wall, General Counsel