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Publication Date



Attorney General, Legal Ethics, Minister's Office, Political Staff, Prime Minister


Adam Dodek has argued that the Prime Minister’s Office lawyer sidelines the Attorney General as chief law officer of the Crown. This article argues that the role of the Minister’s Office lawyer, including the Prime Minister’s Office lawyer, can be reconceived to avoid a clash with the role of the Attorney General and government lawyers who act as her delegates. The article begins by reviewing the role of the Attorney General, the arguments for the Minister’s Office lawyer, and lessons from the tension in the US between the White House Counsel and the Attorney General. It then proposes and evaluates three models that resolve the apparent role tension: the Minister’s Office lawyer represents the political party in power; the Minister’s Office lawyer reports to the Attorney General, directly or indirectly; and the Minister’s Office lawyer represents the Minister herself. The article then considers the professional obligations of the Minister’s Office lawyer. While she shares the professional obligations of all practicing lawyers, the Minister’s Office lawyer should be particularly concerned with correctly identifying the client, preventing political and personal loyalty from interfering with her professional obligations of candour and competence and withdrawal, and separating legal advice from purely political advice. Finally, the article argues that the Minister’s Office lawyer is best understood not as being a subset of government lawyers but instead as being in a category of its own.

Publication Abbreviation

Parliamentary & Pol L