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Law Officers

Law officers are senior legal advisors to the government.

They comprise the Attorney General for England and Wales, Solicitor General for England and Wales, Advocate General for Scotland, and Advocate General for Northern Ireland.

The Scottish Government has two law officers, the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland.

The Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive each have one law officer, the Counsel General for Wales and the Attorney General for Northern Ireland respectively.

Law officers’ functions vary significantly and depend on the historical and constitutional context of their posts. They typically carry out a range of advisory, litigatory and executive functions, including:

  • oversight of (the relevant) jurisdiction’s prosecution services;
  • oversight of other government legal services;
  • representing the relevant government or executive in litigation;
  • specific statutory powers and duties, especially in relation to the devolution settlements;
  • advising Cabinet and individual Ministers on legal matters; and/or
  • advising the relevant legislature or the Monarch on legal matters.

Source: House of Commons Library Briefing, The Law Officers: a Constitutional and Functional Overview