April 10, 2023

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, Eastern Time

The New York State Solicitor General's Office: A Conversation with Brian Ginsberg

Jerome Greene Hall Room 646, New York, New York

Most visible part of NYSG: briefing and arguing state and federal appeals brought and defended by NYS administrative agencies and executive, legislative, and judicial officials

Distinctive NYSG preparation process for oral arguments: multiple moot courts. Moot courts include representatives from the agency/NYS instrumentality at issue, to impart subject-matter expertise (e.g., NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation for an environmental case). Moot courts also include colleagues from NYSG. These are lawyers who focus solely on appeals and can best simulate actual court questions (and likely have recently appeared before the same court, and maybe even same panel of judges, in the recent past)


NYSG also performs oversight and management of (basically) the entire NYS agency/official appellate docket, by deciding whether adverse trial rulings will be appealed (and whether further review of intermediate appellate rulings will be sought in a higher court).

Agencies/officials on the losing end of a trial-court decision must request permission from NYSG to pursue an appeal, and NYSG applies rigorous internal vetting process to determine whether permission will be granted.


It’s generally not enough that the decision below be regarded by the agency/official as legally incorrect. NYSG often requires agency/official to demonstrate that the matter is one of State-wide importance before appeal will be authorized.


(This vetting process is one of the reasons why NY state and federal courts view NYSG lawyers/alums as second to none when it comes to skill and integrity in appellate litigation.)

NYSG’s robust amicus curiae practice


Office appears as amicus where the constitutionality of a NYS statute is challenged.


Office often leads/participates as amicus in multistate AG/SG coalitions in matters of nationwide importance.


NYSG (on behalf of state agencies/officials) occasionally “confesses error,” admitting that a victory won by the agency/official below is contrary to law and should be reversed and should properly be decided against NYS


Hiring: Although the NY Attorney General is of course an elected office, NYSG has long tradition of being an apolitical office in terms of its litigation strategy and its personnel, hiring based on merit. NYSG generally does not hire directly from law school, but beyond that has hired attorneys from a variety of professional backgrounds: former appellate law clerks, former trial law clerks, former small-firm litigators, former big-firm litigators, people with past gov’t experience, people without—and all from a wide variety of law schools (both within NYS and beyond).