Summer Clerkship Program
Dates: First session: May 23-July 1, 2022; second session: July 5-August 12, 2022
Assignments: Law clerks will be assigned to one or two divisions. Assignments will include research; drafting of memoranda, motions, and briefs; preparing for depositions; etc. Each clerk will have a supervising attorney who will be in charge of assigning work to the clerk and who, along with the other attorneys and staff in a division, will be available for feedback.
Divisions: We ask clerks for their division preferences when they accept an offer of employment, but no one will be guaranteed a spot in a particular division. Every clerk will have the opportunity to attend moot courts, oral arguments, and other events that are listed on our clerk’s calendar, both for their assigned division(s) and other divisions in the office.
Calendar: The clerk’s calendar is updated regularly during the summer to inform clerks about various opportunities available to them. For example, clerks will be able to attend oral arguments at the Tennessee Court of Appeals or Tennessee Supreme Court. In the past, we have offered tours of the Tennessee Capitol and of a state prison. There will also be opportunities to meet with other clerks and attorneys in other divisions within the office.
Benefits: Our program offers an opportunity for law students to learn about the law in a varied practice. Law students who have completed at least four semesters of law school at the start of the program will be paid $16 an hour. No monetary compensation is available for law students who have completed fewer than four semesters. We encourage those interested to seek public service stipends or school credit.
Contact: If you have questions, contact Pete Sullivan at 615-741-2820 or Pete.Sullivan@ag.tn.gov
Applications: Interested applicants should submit a resume, cover letter, transcript, and writing sample by email to firstname.lastname@example.org in Word, WordPerfect, or PDF format and put “Summer Clerkship Program” in the subject line. Interviews will start in January 2022.
Equal Opportunity Employer
General Description of Legal Practice and Organization
As the State’s Chief Legal Officer, the Tennessee Attorney General and Reporter represents all state executives, officials, departments, boards, agencies and commissions in matters arising from their public duties. Such representation includes participation in litigation and transactional matters, issuing formal written opinions, and giving day-to-day legal advice. The state constitution gives the Tennessee Supreme Court the authority to appoint the Attorney General and Reporter to an eight-year term. This method of appointment is unique among the fifty states. Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti began his term on September 1, 2022.
Assisting in the supervisory duties are the Chief Deputy, who is responsible for the day-to-day legal matters of the Office; the Solicitor General, whose primary duties involve supervision of the Office's appellate work and opinion writing; and the Chief of Staff, who oversees the operations of the Office.
Civil Litigation Section
- Civil Law Division: The Civil Law Division defends the State and its employees in federal civil rights actions and tort claims brought in all federal courts, state courts, and the Tennessee Claims Commission. The division also handles a wide variety of civil matters representing a number of state departments, boards, and agencies including the Departments of Children’s Services, Human Services, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Labor and Workforce Development, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Administrative Office of the Courts, Tourist Development, Veterans Homes Board, Veterans Services Affairs, and Tennessee Housing Development Agency .
- Environmental Division: The Environmental Division enforces civil environmental protection laws regarding clean air, clean water, solid and hazardous wastes, and other areas. The division provides advice to and reviews regulations for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. It also provides legal advice and representation to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
- Real Property and Transportation Division: The Real Property and Transportation Division represents the state in land acquisition for all purposes. Most of the work performed by the division involves the Tennessee Department of Transportation. In addition to Nashville, the Real Property Division has regional offices in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Jackson.
Criminal Justice Section
- Criminal Appeals Division: The Criminal Appeals Division handles all appellate matters involved in procuring and then defending criminal judgments in the State’s appellate courts. Division attorneys are responsible for interlocutory, extraordinary, direct, and post-conviction appeals, and for defending state criminal judgments in state habeas corpus proceedings in both the trial and appellate courts. The division has a team of attorneys who work with the Governor’s legal counsel and Department of Correction attorneys in dealing with extradition and detainer matters. Division attorneys also spend a great deal of time advising District Attorneys General and their assistants and helping them work through complex legal issues.
- Federal Habeas Corpus Division: The Federal Habeas Corpus Division defends state criminal judgments that are collaterally challenged in federal court through petitions for writ of habeas corpus. To that end, division attorneys advise and work with staff members from the district attorneys general offices, the Department of Correction, and the Board of Parole on matters related to federal habeas corpus proceedings.
- Law Enforcement and Special Prosecutions Division: The Law Enforcement and Special Prosecutions Division is composed of two teams: the Enforcement Team and the Corrections Team. The Enforcement Team represents several State agencies, including the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Department of Agriculture, and State Fire Marshal, defending against suits for declaratory and injunctive relief as well as in the appeals of these cases. The team also handles appeals of administrative decisions for these agencies in state courts. Additionally, the team handles a limited number of criminal prosecutions over which this Office has original jurisdiction, such as in matters involving criminal acts by elected state judicial officials, Securities Act violations, and violations of the State’s Clean Water Act and assists in criminal prosecutions through cross-designation by local district attorneys. The Corrections Team represents the Tennessee Department of Correction in civil rights actions and tort claims brought in state and federal courts and in the Tennessee Claims Commission. Many of these lawsuits are brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, where the plaintiff is seeking money damages and/or injunctive relief relative to the conditions of his or her confinement. These lawsuits include challenges to Tennessee’s death penalty protocol. The Corrections Team also represents the Tennessee Board of Parole in cases involving the denial, revocation, or rescission of parole..
State Services and Litigation Section
- Education and Employment Division: The Education and Employment Division represents the state’s various agencies and institutions in employment related matters. In addition to representing these clients in litigation, the division offers legal advice and assists with promulgating rules. The division also handles construction litigation, assists with state procurement related matters, and reviews state contracts and leases. With regard to Education, the division represents the Tennessee Department of Education in litigation and assists them with other education related matters. The division also represents and assists public universities with a variety of matters.
- Financial Division: The Financial Division provides legal services for much of the State’s business-related activities, representing numerous agencies that deal with issues of government financing, banking, economic development, legal gambling, and insurance and securities regulation. Division clients include the Department of Commerce and Insurance, the Department of Treasury, the Comptroller of the Treasury, the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Finance and Administration, the Department of Financial Institutions, the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System, and the Sports Wagering Advisory Council. The Consumer Advocate team within the Financial Division represents the interests of Tennessee consumers of public utilities services, primarily before the Tennessee Public Utilities Commission.
- Health Care Division: The Health Care Division provides legal advice and representation to the Bureau of TennCare and the Department of Health and its health-related boards such as the Board of Dentistry, the Board of Medical Examiners, the Board of Nursing, and the Board of Optometry along with the Health Services Development Agency. The Medicaid Fraud and Integrity Unit works with TennCare, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the Office of Inspector General in combating medical provider fraud in the TennCare/Medicaid program.
- Public Interest Division: The Public Interest Division carries out the office’s statutory duty to oversee the operation of nonprofit entities on behalf of Tennesseans. The division handles charitable oversight and charitable solicitations as well as issues involving open meetings, public records, and campaigns and elections. The False Claims team handles non-Medicaid false claims matters.
- Tax Division: The Tax Division defends the Department of Revenue in suits challenging tax assessments or seeking refunds. It also represents the State Board of Equalization in its role in administering property taxes. In addition to these tax matters, the division represents most of the regulatory boards in the Department of Commerce and Insurance, the Supreme Court boards governing the legal profession, the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, and the business functions of the Secretary of State.
Public Protection Section
- Bankruptcy Division: The Bankruptcy Division represents state agencies in bankruptcy courts across the country. Specifically, it represents the state’s interest by filing proofs of claims and administrative claims in bankruptcy cases where a state entity is owed a debt. The division also collects penalties and other debts owed to state departments and agencies.
- Consumer Protection Division: The Consumer Protection Division is the civil enforcement arm of the Attorney General’s Office that protects Tennessee’s consumers and businesses. The division’s attorneys are responsible for investigating and litigating violations of laws concerning unfair and deceptive trade practices, the state and federal antitrust laws, and laws concerning the unauthorized practice of law. The division’s attorneys also frequently work with federal partners and offices of attorneys general from throughout the United States to investigate and litigate consumer protection and antitrust violations that affect consumers and businesses nationwide.
- Tobacco Enforcement Division: The Tobacco Enforcement Division holds the tobacco industry accountable for strict compliance with the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement’s (MSA’s) marketing restrictions and payment obligations. In addition, the division enforces a number of state laws and programs that regulate the promotion and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in the state, including the state’s Tobacco Directory and Tobacco Escrow Fund Act. The division is also involved in community outreach by making presentations to school children about the dangers of smoking and vaping.