General Counsel

The General Counsel Division of the Oregon Department of Justice serves state officials, agencies, boards and commissions. The Division's legal services include giving legal advice and representing agencies in administrative hearings.

Leadership

Steve Wolf, Chief Counsel

Steve is the chief counsel of the General Counsel Division, which is responsible for providing legal services to almost all state agencies. Steve joined the Division as an assistant attorney general in 1998 and has served as chief counsel since 2012. Before coming to the Oregon DOJ, Steve was an attorney in SAIF Corporation’s legal services division and was in private practice in Portland. Steve received his B.A. in English from the University of Oregon and his J.D. from Willamette University College of Law in Salem.

Judy Giers, Deputy Chief Counsel

Judy is the deputy chief counsel of the General Counsel Division. After graduating from law school in 1990, she clerked for the Oregon Court of Appeals, before joining a private firm handling big cases - Is Oregon's school funding system unconstitutional? - and little cases - Is it a crime to throw a snowball at a cop? She has taught Constitutional Law and other classes at the University of Oregon Law School. Before joining the Oregon DOJ, she was in-house counsel to Architrave Health and helped to launch Oregon's first Coordinated Care Organization. She joined the Oregon DOJ in July of 2014, just in time to help implement Oregon's new recreational marijuana law.


The General Counsel Division’s work is organized as follows:

Business Activities Section

The Business Activities Section represents more than 50 of Oregon’s professional and occupational licensing and regulatory agencies, including the Department of Consumer and Business Services », Oregon Public Utility Commission » and Teacher Standards and Practices Commission ». Business Activities Section attorneys give those agencies legal advice, and represent them in regulatory and administrative enforcement proceedings.

Business Transactions Section

Business Transactions Section attorneys work with state agencies in the following contracting areas:

  • design and construction
  • real property
  • intellectual property and information technology
  • complex general business (including investment, health insurance, guaranty and surety contracts)

The Business Transactions Section assists other attorneys in the Oregon DOJ, and frequently represents state agencies in informal resolution of procurement and contract disputes.

Government Services Section

The Government Services Section provides legal services to a wide range of state agencies. The Section also anticipates legal issues and works with agency personnel to solve them.

Government Services Section clients include:

Health and Human Services Section

The Health and Human Services Section provides advice and administrative litigation representation to state agencies that help Oregonians live full and healthy lives. Section attorneys help agencies comply with laws and regulations of state and federal health and welfare programs.

Health and Human Services Section clients include:

Labor and Employment Section

The Labor and Employment Section serves as legal counsel on labor and employment issues related to all of state government, including state agencies and quasi-independent boards and commissions. The Section advises and trains its clients on the broad spectrum of labor and employment law. It also represents them in labor arbitrations and in administrative hearings and proceedings.

The Labor and Employment Section is specifically assigned as counsel to the Human Resources Services Division and Labor Relations Unit of the Department of Administrative Services », the Employment Relations Board » and the Fair Dismissal Appeals Board ».

Natural Resources Section

The Natural Resources Section provides the legal services Oregon’s environmental and natural resource agencies need to help them to carry out their missions and responsibilities.

Natural Resources Section clients include:

Tax and Finance Section

The Tax and Finance Section represents clients in administrative hearings and extends its litigation practice to trial and appellate courts.

On the tax side, the Section represents the Department of Revenue in the Oregon Tax Court, the Oregon Supreme Court and in federal courts. Tax advice and litigation encompasses property tax, personal income tax, corporation income and excise taxes, other types of state and local taxes and local budget law procedures. Tax attorneys help other state agencies on tax issues and represent the state in tax matters before the Internal Revenue Service.

On the finance side, the Section advises the Office of the State Treasurer and the Oregon Investment Council on state banking, investment and borrowing activities. Finance attorneys assist other state agencies with loan negotiation, grants or other financial transactions.

In addition, the Tax and Finance Section assists and represents the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) » on issues related to retirement, disability and death benefits.