State Attorneys General



Venable LLP offers clients a full range of services in its State Attorneys General practice. The firm's work with state attorneys general goes back decades and spans many industries. At any given time, our team is working on more than a dozen active state attorney general matters.

Our State Attorneys General practice has recently been bolstered and is led by former Arkansas Attorney General and U.S. Senator Mark L. Pryor. Senator Pryor joins numerous practitioners who have years of experience representing companies of all sizes before state attorney general offices, often in high-profile, multifaceted matters.

In today's policy and legal environment, state attorneys general are more relevant to companies than ever before. They are involved in state legislative initiatives, multistate investigations, and litigation that affect almost every major U.S. industry. Whether they act alone, in concert with other states, or with the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), or other federal agencies, their influence is felt in every decision-making body. State attorneys general enforce their states' consumer protection and data breach laws, serve as environmental regulators, and are actively involved in merger review and antitrust regulation. In addition, they are increasingly joining together to advocate before the U.S. Congress on federal policy issues and federal actions.

Venable offers a variety of practical and strategic solutions in dealing with the attorneys general:

  • We build relationships, educating the state attorneys general and their teams about our clients and our clients' industries.
  • We spend time with our clients to help them develop their approach to the state attorneys general environment and trends. This includes political analysis and advice on a variety of business and litigation topics.
  • We have the substance and experience needed to handle practically any issue presented by a state attorney general working alone or by all of them working together.
  • We work with clients to develop and execute strategies for attorney general inquiries, investigations, and litigation.
  • We identify emerging trends so we can work with clients to anticipate and proactively limit potential problems.
  • We engage on behalf of clients with attorneys general regarding state and federal statutes, regulations, and policies.

Venable has deep experience representing clients before state attorneys general in the following areas:

Advertising and Marketing 

For most state attorneys general, false advertising, "bait and switch," misleading comparisons, and unsubstantiated claims are the traditional concerns of consumer protection. Venable, one of the leading firms in the country in advertising law, consults and litigates in all of these areas.

Antitrust 

We regularly represent clients who are facing federal and state challenges relating to anti-competitive activity – whether it is in connection with a merger/acquisition or just in the ordinary course of business.

Consumer Finance 

The passage of Dodd-Frank and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have given rise to a new jurisdiction for state attorneys general and numerous new challenges for business. Venable has more experience than our counterparts with the CFPB and the actions they bring.

Consumer Products and Services

The traditional alliance between the Federal Trade Commission and the state attorneys general is as strong as ever. Whether they are working together or on separate tracks, our clients have relied on our services in these areas for decades, with proven results.

Environment and Energy 

Environment and energy are emerging areas of focus for the states as more domestic energy is developed and produced, and the EPA and other federal agencies become more active in regulating energy production and consumption.

Investigations 

Experience counts. Venable has handled investigations by Congress, federal agencies, and the states for years. In addition to our broad experience, the firm routinely hires attorneys who have run investigations for the federal and state governments. This first-hand knowledge is always a valuable asset to Venable's clients.

Legislative and Governmental Affairs 

With a strong lobbying arm headquartered in its Washington, DC office, our firm is accustomed to getting results. We advocate with Congress, the White House, and virtually all federal agencies, helping clients make their voices heard.

State and Local Government 

The Tenth Amendment reserves powers to the states, and most state attorneys general jealously protect this constitutional role. This, coupled with the gridlock in Washington, means we see more state legislative and regulatory activity now than at any time in the past. Venable gives clients the right team to handle situations at the state level.

Privacy and Data Security 

Privacy and data security is a core strength for Venable, and we have been involved in shaping policy at the federal, state, and local levels. We are skilled at establishing best practices for a company or an entire industry, as well as handling the difficult process of cleaning up after a data breach.

Representative Matters

Advertising and Marketing:

  • Representation of a major national retailer in connection with an attorney general investigation into alleged state law violations.
  • Representation of numerous direct marketing companies in connection with coordinated state attorneys general and FTC investigations.
  • Representation of a national consumer product company in connection with state attorneys general investigations of alleged false advertising.

Antitrust:

  • Representation of pharmaceutical company in connection with a state attorney general investigation of alleged reverse payments.

Consumer Finance:

  • Development of inbound and outbound scripts for compliance with the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule and state laws.
  • Representation of a debt negotiation company faced with countless consumer complaints, multiple state regulatory investigations, several state cease and desist orders, and private lawsuits.
  • Representation of numerous credit counseling agencies and debt settlement companies in lawsuits alleging violations of a variety of federal and state laws (including credit repair statutes) brought against them in both single-plaintiff suits and class actions.

Environment and Energy:

  • Representation of companies in compliance matters related to California Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.

Government Contracts:

  • Representation of an individual contractor in a state attorney general criminal probe into bribery and payment of gratuities to state officials in connection with state construction contracts. The investigation was closed without charges against the contractor.
  • Representation of a generic pharmaceutical company in a national resolution of False Claims Act allegations in connection with the marketing of certain drugs produced at facilities that were not fully compliant with current Good Manufacturing Practices. The settlement involved negotiated settlements with all fifty states and the District of Columbia, as part of a larger settlement with United States. The company paid a penalty and admitted no wrongdoing.

Privacy and Data Security:

  • Representation of a company in a state attorney general inquiry related to a data breach affecting consumers in multiple states.
  • Representation of a major media company in provision of a 3rd party service to a content provider in responding to a CID.
  • Representation of an Internet advertising technology service provider in a multi-state Attorney General inquiry regarding use of cookies.
  • Representation of a leading fast food chain in a State Attorney General Children’s Privacy and COPPA inquiry.