Overview of Legal Units
The Office of the Attorney General has approximately 450 attorneys who specialize in more than 40 areas of law. The office is organized around an administrative division and 10 law divisions that encompass several bureaus.
Office of the Attorney General Divisions:
- Child Support
- Consumer Protection
- Criminal Justice
- Environmental Enforcement
- Government Representation
- Policy and Legislative Affairs
- Public Access and Opinions
- Public Interest
- Solicitor General
- Violence Prevention and Crime Victim Services
Learn more about the work of individual legal units.
The Attorney General's Antitrust Bureau is responsible for enforcing the antitrust laws to prevent anticompetitive practices, and to promote competition in Illinois. The Bureau enforces Illinois' antitrust laws and also has the authority to sue for violations of federal antitrust laws. The Antitrust Bureau investigates and challenges anti-competitive mergers, price-fixing agreements, and other illegal practices by companies, both local and national, that harm Illinois consumers and important state interests. In addition, the Bureau conducts merger reviews to determine if a proposed combination will substantially lessen competition. Investigations can be local, regional, or national in scope and often are joint investigations with the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and/or other state attorneys general.
The Charitable Trust Bureau represents the interests of the State in matters relating to charitable organizations, the use and administration of charitable assets, and the solicitation of charitable funds. The Attorney General has broad common law authority in this area, as well as statutory authority under the Charitable Trust Act (760 ILCS 55/1 et seq.) and the Solicitation for Charity Act (225 ILCS 460/1 et seq.), which require charitable organizations and fundraisers to register and file annual financial reports with the Office. The Bureau acts to ensure compliance with statutory registration and reporting requirements, reviews transactions involving charitable assets, investigates possible breaches of fiduciary duty, misuses of charitable assets, and improper solicitation activities and, when appropriate, brings court actions seeking relief. In addition, the Charitable Trust Bureau represents the Office in a variety of matters, including probate and chancery actions where the Attorney General is a necessary party because the interpretation of a charitable document, the validity of a charitable interest, and/or the use or valuation of a charitable asset is at issue.
The Child Support Enforcement Division represents the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) on an as-needed basis in child support matters in Cook, DuPage, Kane, and Lake counties, including administrative review actions. Additionally, the Child Support Division represents the Department of Human Services (DHS) in administrative review actions concerning public assistance eligibility and excess assistance recoveries; personal injury lien recoveries; decedent and incompetent estate liens and claims; foreclosure actions; and miscellaneous matters.
The Child Welfare Litigation Bureau represents the Department of Children and Family Services and the DCFS Director in complex class action litigation and administrative review actions.
The Civil Appeals Division represents state agencies, officials, and employees in civil appeals pending in state and federal reviewing courts. Those courts include the Illinois Supreme Court, all five districts of the Illinois Appellate Court, the United States Supreme Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Most of the Civil Appeals Division's cases originate in the civil litigation bureaus of the Office (for example, General Law or Revenue Litigation). The areas of law involved in these cases vary widely and include such diverse topics as constitutional law, administrative law, prisoner rights, labor law, tax law, employment discrimination, unemployment compensation, and education. The Civil Appeals Division also handles administrative review matters that proceed directly to the appellate court from agencies such as the Human Rights Commission, Labor Relations Boards, Pollution Control Board, and Property Tax Appeal Board.
The mission of the Civil Rights Bureau is to protect and advance the civil rights guarantees of all Illinois residents. The Civil Rights Bureau investigates and prosecutes cases involving a broad cross-section of civil rights issues, including discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and employment, and by financial institutions as well as sexual harassment. The Civil Rights Bureau currently enforces the nation's most comprehensive consent decree to implement wide-ranging reform at the Chicago Police Department. The Civil Rights Bureau has participated in fair lending cases with the Department of Justice, including one that resulted in the largest fair lending settlement in history. The Bureau also recently resolved a case involving allegations of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination of temporary workers at an Illinois warehouse.
The Consumer Fraud Bureau is responsible for handling a broad spectrum of consumer protection activities. Its focus is to protect Illinois residents from fraudulent or dishonest business practices. It engages in investigations of possible fraud or deception and, when appropriate, files enforcement actions in state or federal court. Some examples of types of businesses the Consumer Fraud Bureau investigates are: home repair companies, auto dealers, mortgage and payday lenders, student loan and mortgage servicers, immigration consultants, and drug companies. In addition to litigation, the Consumer Fraud Bureau also drafts legislation, comments on proposed rules and legislation, and follows emerging consumer problems and issues.
Crime Victim Services
The Crime Victim Services Division of the Illinois Attorney General's Office serves victims of crime by administering various programs that directly benefit victims of crime, including those that assist victims with the financial burden resulting from injuries of crime and that assist local crime victim service programs. The Division offers information, resources and financial assistance to crime victims and the organizations that assist them.
The Criminal Appeals Division represents the People in criminal and quasi-criminal matters at all levels of the state and federal court systems. The Criminal Appeals Division is the sole office responsible for briefing and arguing criminal cases before the Illinois Supreme Court. Criminal Appeals attorneys regularly brief and argue habeas corpus cases in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit after defending those cases in federal district court. The Division’s practice also includes filings before the United States Supreme Court; briefing and arguing cases before the Illinois Appellate Court; defending the constitutionality of criminal statutes at the circuit court level throughout Illinois; and drafting and reviewing legislative proposals related to criminal law. Cases typically involve constitutional or statutory construction issues and can present matters of first impression.
The Criminal Trials Bureau is responsible for handling a broad spectrum of criminal cases. The Bureau provides assistance to State's Attorneys across Illinois and prosecutes cases developed by office investigators.
The mission of the Disability Rights Bureau is to protect and advance the interests of persons with disabilities in Illinois. The Disability Rights Bureau is the sole civil enforcer of the Environmental Barriers Act, the state law that ensures physical access to public facilities. Additionally, the Bureau enforces the civil rights of people with disabilities under state and federal laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Amendments Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Disability Rights Bureau also proposes and comments on legislation, influencing policy, and advising the courts, all in service of its mission to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities.
The Environmental Crimes Bureau investigates and prosecutes environmental crimes in state court.
The Illinois Attorney General plays a critical role in the enforcement of civil environmental laws. The Environmental Enforcement Bureau's primary role is handling enforcement actions referred to the office by a number of state agencies, including the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and others. The Environmental Enforcement Bureau also engages in outreach to community members to learn of potential violations of environmental laws that are endangering the health and well-being of families and communities. The Bureau works to stop pollution and ensure that polluters, not taxpayers, pay the cost of cleanup.
The Financial Crimes Prosecution Unit is a specialized prosecution group based in Chicago that investigates and prosecutes a wide range of complex economic crimes throughout Illinois. Those prosecutions include cases involving various types of sophisticated insurance, securities and bank fraud schemes, embezzlement schemes, and public corruption. Cases are received from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and from county states attorneys.
FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) Office
The FOIA Act (FOIA) (5 ILCS 140/1 et seq. (West 2016)) is a state statute that provides the public with the right to access government documents and records. The FOIA Office works with the various divisions, bureaus, and units to locate records responsive to a FOIA request submitted to the Attorney General's Office, to redact any exempt information from the responsive records prior to disclosure, and to draft appropriate responses to public records requests.
The Franchise Bureau registers and monitors companies who seek to sell franchises in Illinois. The goal of the Franchise Bureau (and the Franchise Disclosure Act it administers) is to provide presale disclosure and protection for prospective franchisees and to promote a better understanding of the business and legal relationship between the franchisee and the franchisor. Franchise Examiners review these presale disclosures for compliance with state and federal law to ensure that accurate and reliable information is provided to prospective franchisees before the sale.
The General Law Bureau represents the interests of the State of Illinois and its people in civil trial litigation. The General Law Bureau functions as a defense law firm for the State of Illinois, its officers, agencies, and employees. Areas of law include personal injury, property damage, injunction cases, administrative hearings and reviews, declaratory judgment actions, federal and state civil rights cases, class actions, bankruptcy and employment discrimination matters, contract law, construction law, tort law, securities regulations, labor law, prisoners' rights, election law, license revocations, banking, and constitutional law. In addition to its defense functions, the General Law Bureau routinely prosecutes certain types of proceedings such as actions to enforce labor laws and actions to enforce licensing laws.
The Health Care Bureau is responsible for handling a broad spectrum of health care related-consumer protection activities. Its focus is to protect Illinois residents from fraudulent or harmful health care and health insurance business practices. It engages in investigations of possible fraud or deception and, when appropriate, files enforcement actions in state or federal court. The Bureau also files lawsuits on behalf of Illinois consumers and businesses victimized by fraud, deception and unfair business practices. In addition to litigation, the Bureau also drafts legislation and participates in seminars and trainings to educate the community on emerging consumer problems and issues.
The mission of the High-Tech Crimes Bureau is to address the need for specialized personnel to respond to the complex and technical nature of offenses that are committed via the Internet and computers. The Bureau's responsibilities include investigation assistance, prosecution and prosecution assistance, training, and public awareness activities in the area of high technology crimes. High-Tech Crimes Bureau personnel have assisted law enforcement agencies and State's Attorneys' offices in the investigation and prosecution of a wide variety of offenses that have had a “high tech” element, including various frauds, run-away children, e-mail threats, hacking, software piracy, child exploitation, arson and homicides.
The Land Acquisition Bureau monitors and advises Special Assistant Attorneys General in eminent domain cases pending throughout the State of Illinois. The duties of the bureau include: (1) reviewing cases referred to the Attorney General's Office by a state agency seeking private property for a public project prior to assignment to a Special Assistant Attorney General for the filing of a condemnation complaint; (2) reviewing and analyzing settlement recommendations from the Special Assistant Attorneys General; (3) reviewing and approving agreed acquisitions by state agencies and the title commitments for the acquired properties to ensure the State of Illinois is receiving clear title; (4) reviewing and analyzing proposed legislation that concerns land acquisitions by the State of Illinois, including special procedures the acquiring governmental agencies must follow; (5) working with the Attorney General's Civil Appeals Division on appeals of substantive issues that arise from the Office's eminent domain litigation; and (6) monitoring case law affecting land acquisition and eminent domain matters.
The Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit consists of 11 Attorneys working with the Illinois State Police. Assistant Attorneys General are required to perform criminal and civil prosecutions in Illinois State and Federal courts. Medicaid cases relate to fraud on the Medicaid system, the abuse and neglect of long-term care facility residents, drug diversion and the litigation of civil qui tam cases in state and federal court.
Military and Veterans Rights
The Military and Veterans Rights Bureau educates veterans as to their rights and benefits, provides written materials to assist veterans in understanding their rights on specific issues, and provides outreach to the veteran community by attending events and speaking on veteran's rights, benefits and other issues, such as consumer fraud and military employment. The Bureau also investigates (1) violations of laws affecting Illinois veterans and service members in order to enforce such laws or to make referrals to the proper agency; (2) violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and related provisions in conjunction with the Consumer Fraud Bureau; and (3) violations of the Illinois Service Member Employment & Reemployment Rights Act.
The Opinions Bureau is responsible for advising State officers and State's Attorneys on matters related to their official duties. Frequently, advice is given in the form of official and informal opinions of the Attorney General. The issues addressed in the opinions may include civil and criminal matters, the application of State and Federal law, and the construction of statutory and constitutional provisions.
In addition to engaging in civil and criminal litigation, the Attorney General's Office pursues various policy matters. The Policy Division develops and works on policy initiatives; develops and drafts legislation; staffs committees and task forces; interacts with local, state and federal agencies; works with advocacy organizations; and conducts outreach and develops training programs. The Policy Division also focuses on diverse issues such as: domestic violence and sexual assault; women's issues; cyber safety; economic protection; senior citizens; children's safety; consumer product safety; environmental safety; healthcare; and public safety.
The Public Access Bureau's duties include reviewing denials of requests to inspect or copy public records under the Freedom of Information Act and examining allegations of a public body's violation of the requirements of the Open Meetings Act.
The Public Integrity Bureau is a specialized public corruption prosecution group of the Attorney General's Office. Attorneys prosecute a wide variety of crimes ranging from Official Misconduct committed by state, county and city officials and employees to government vendor and grant fraud. Prosecutions include sophisticated wire and mail fraud schemes, forgery, theft, and minority business fraud. Cases are received from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies along with referrals from Inspector Generals and County State's Attorneys.
The Public Utilities Bureau represents the People of the State of Illinois with respect to all laws governing public utilities, including energy, water, and telecommunications services. The Public Utilities Bureau is responsible for the development of the Attorney General's public policy on utility and communications issues. The principal aim of the Bureau is protecting ratepayers from public utilities' efforts to alter rates or engage in practices that negatively affect consumers.
The Revenue Litigation Bureau represents the interests of the State in litigation involving the civil enforcement of taxes administered by the Department of Revenue. The Revenue Litigation Bureau also represents the Department in bankruptcy cases around the country, primarily in responding to objections to claims filed by the Department or in filing objections to confirmation of plans filed by debtors under chapter 11 or 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. In addition, the Bureau is responsible for the collection of debts owed a variety of other state agencies. The latter cases include property damage and personal injury matters arising from damage to state property and injuries to state employees, as well as various fines, penalties, and contractual liabilities. Finally, the Revenue Litigation Bureau supervises the assessment and collection of Illinois Estate Taxes, and in this regard all Illinois estate tax returns must be filed with the Revenue Litigation Bureau.
The Unit is responsible for prosecuting criminal violations of Illinois tax laws in trial courts located in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Attorneys in this Unit work closely with special agents from the Department of Revenue, Criminal Investigations Division (CID) and primarily prosecute the crimes of tax evasion, fraudulent filing of tax returns, and failing to file tax returns. Prosecutors in the Unit also occasionally work with other state and federal prosecutors on financial crimes, narcotics cases, and public corruption cases when those cases have a tax fraud nexus.
The Special Litigation Bureau primarily handles complex investigations and affirmative litigation, including matters of high sensitivity and potential policy impact. One of the Bureau's primary responsibilities is to investigate and litigate cases involving governmental fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption. The Special Litigation Bureau investigates and pursues civil enforcement actions against public officials, employees, vendors, contractors, and others who commit fraud against the state or violate state ethics laws. The Bureau frequently works with a variety of state and federal agencies and litigates in state and federal courts. The Special Litigation Bureau also provides litigation support to other bureaus in complex matters and participates in legislative review and initiatives.
Statewide Grand Jury
The Constitution and laws of Illinois provide that no person shall be brought to trial for a crime punishable by death or by imprisonment in the penitentiary unless either the initial charge has been brought by indictment of a grand jury or the person has been given a prompt preliminary hearing and a judge has found probable cause. The Statewide Grand Jury Bureau is authorized by Illinois statute to prosecute multi-county cases involving drugs, guns, or computers. Working regularly with state and federal counterparts, the Bureau focuses on complex, often large scale, organized criminal activity.
Sexually Violent Persons
The Sexually Violent Persons Bureau is responsible for pursuing the involuntary civil commitment and treatment of sexually violent persons pursuant to the Illinois Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act (SVPA). The SVPA permits the civil commitment of sexually violent persons after they have completed their prison sentence when they have a mental disorder that makes it substantially probable that they will engage in sexual violence. The purpose of the SVPA is to make sure sexually violent individuals do not re-enter society and continue to prey on victims.
The Tobacco Enforcement Bureau is responsible for enforcing the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), which is a landmark settlement entered into in 1998 by the Illinois Attorney General and 51 states and territories with the four largest tobacco companies. Illinois will receive over $9.1 billion under the settlement. The MSA provides for restrictions on the advertising and promotional activities of tobacco companies, specifically prohibiting the targeting of youth by banning practices designed to attract underage consumers. The Bureau also enforces the provisions of the State escrow laws pertaining to certain tobacco manufacturers.
Toll Highway Authority
The Toll Highway Bureau provides legal services to the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, a 1,400-employee public agency with over $1 billion in annual revenue that is currently implementing a $14 billion capital program. The Bureau provides wide-ranging legal services including, but not limited to: government contracting, collections and dispute resolution counseling.
The Unemployment Insurance Bureau provides legal representation to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The Bureau's responsibilities include representing the Department in administrative review cases from either benefit or tax decisions, prosecuting civil collections cases for both benefit overpayment and non-payment of unemployment insurance taxes, representing the Department in bankruptcy cases, and handling subpoenas or other official requests for information.
The Workers' Compensation Bureau defends the State of Illinois in workers' compensation claims filed by state employees with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. In addition, the Bureau prosecutes employers under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act for failure to maintain workers' compensation insurance coverage for employees. The Bureau also defends claims filed against various State Funds which provide workers' compensation benefits under certain circumstances. Additionally, the Bureau provides advice to State agencies on workers' compensation issues.
The mission of the Workplace Rights Bureau is to protect and advance the employment rights of Illinois residents, particularly and low and moderate-income residents and immigrant residents. The Workplace Rights Bureau investigates and litigates cases involving serious or persistent violations of laws protecting workers or other significant labor and employment practices. The Bureau drafts amicus curiae briefs on important employment law matters and comments on proposed regulatory changes. The Bureau monitors and proposes legislation concerning labor and employment issues. Additionally, the Bureau conducts outreach and partners with other governmental entities, community groups, unions, and businesses.