State Attorneys General: Teaching Public Law through the Lens of the People’s Lawyer

Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2022, 4:00 – 5:00 PM ET

Webinar Description:

Although a growing number of law professors and students are coming from or going into Attorney General offices around the country, and many state solicitors general are now serving as federal or state judges, few law schools teach about the distinctive functions of the office. This panel discussion will discuss ways in which law schools can integrate the role of the Attorneys General into the curriculum, including full courses, clinics, and class sessions that feature this important perspective.


Learning Objectives:


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Keith Ellison, Attorney General of Minnesota, Member, US House of Representatives 2007-2019, General Curriculum Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School


Keith has served as attorney general since Minnesotans first elected him in 2018. As the People’s Lawyer, Keith’s job is to help Minnesotans afford their lives and live with dignity, safety, and respect. His guiding values are generosity, equity, transparency, and inclusion.

As attorney general, Keith has expanded the office’s strong tradition of consumer protection. He’s fought to lower pharmaceutical drug prices, hold opioid companies accountable for the deadly opioid epidemic, protect tenants from exploitation, protect seniors from scams and abuse, protect student borrowers, hold major corporations accountable for consumer fraud and deception, and much more. Keith kept campaign promises to create a unit in the Attorney General’s office to fight wage theft, work on lowering pharmaceutical drug prices, form a task force on improving women’s economic security, and fight for economic fairness for farmers and people in greater Minnesota.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Keith has used the tools of the attorney general to keep Minnesota families and communities safe, fight pandemic profiteering and illegal evictions, and protect small businesses from unfair competition.

Keith is a leader for criminal-justice reform and accountability. He is the lead prosecutor of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and led the team that successfully convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on a charge of second-degree murder.

Before becoming attorney general, Keith represented Minnesotans in the U.S. House of Representatives for 12 years, where he championed consumer, worker, environmental, and civil-rights protections for all. Before entering Congress, Keith served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for four years and practiced law as a criminal-defense and civil-rights attorney for 16 years, including five years as executive director of the Legal Rights Center. As the leader of this public-interest law firm, Keith oversaw a team of attorneys focused on delivering justice for Minnesotans who had nowhere else to turn.

Keith earned his law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1990. He is the father of four adult children: Isaiah, a Ramsey County prosecutor; Jeremiah, a Minneapolis City Council member; Elijah, an Army veteran and nursing student; and Amirah, a law student.



Carolyn Shapiro, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Administration and Strategic Initiatives, Chicago Kent College of Law, founder and co-director of Chicago Kent Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States, Former Solicitor General

Professor Shapiro is the founder and co-director of Chicago-Kent’s Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States (ISCOTUS). Her scholarship is largely focused on the institutions of our constitutional democracy, in particular the Supreme Court, and how those institutions interact, and has appeared in law reviews. She teaches classes in constitutional law, legislation and statutory interpretation, and public interest law and policy. She also is the faculty director of the Constitutional Democracy Project, a civic education project that provides programs, professional development, and educational materials to high school and middle school teachers and students.

Professor Shapiro is a frequent guest and commentator in the media. Recent appearances have include MSNBCNational Public RadioC-SPAN’s Washington JournalSky News Daily PodcastNBC News NowCBC Radio, and many Chicago news outlets. Her commentary has been featured in the Washington PostThe HillCNN, and SCOTUSblog, among other places, and she has been quoted in numerous news articles in publications ranging from Reuters to NBCNews to the Chicago Tribune to to Bloomberg.

From 2014 through mid-2016, Professor Shapiro served as Illinois solicitor general while on leave from Chicago-Kent. She has argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Seventh Circuit, the Illinois Supreme Court, and the Illinois Appellate Courts, and she maintains a small appellate practice, serving as Of Counsel to Schnapper-Casteras PLLC.

Professor Shapiro is also a member of the Board of Advisors for the Chicago Lawyers’ Chapter of the American Constitution Society and the Board of Advisors for the American Constitution Society’s State Attorneys General Project. In June 2017, the Chicago Lawyers’ Chapter of ACS awarded Professor Shapiro the Abner Mikva Award.

Professor Shapiro was a law clerk for then-Chief Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and for Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the United States Supreme Court. Prior to coming to Chicago-Kent in 2003, she worked as an associate with Miner, Barnhill & Galland, where she handled plaintiff civil rights cases, and as a Skadden Fellow with the National Center on Poverty Law.

She earned a B.A. with general and special honors in English from the University of Chicago, an M.A. from the University of Chicago Harris Graduate School of Public Policy, and a J.D. (high honors) from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was articles editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif.



Jim Tierney, Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School, Author, The Role of the State Attorney General, an open source casebook; Former Attorney General of Maine


James Tierney is a Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School.

Since 2010, Mr. Tierney has taught courses on the role of state attorneys general and has directed the attorney general clinic. He taught a similar course at Columbia Law School from 2000 until 2016, where he was the Director of the National State Attorney General Program, and was a Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School in the Spring of 2018. He is currently the director of, which is an educational resource on the office of state attorney general.

Mr. Tierney served as the Attorney General of Maine from 1980 until 1990. During those years, Mr. Tierney played an active role in the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and served on its various committees. Since 1990 he has instructed newly elected state Attorneys General on the effective performance of their office and consulted for numerous offices of attorneys general on a host of structural, legal and ethical issues. Mr. Tierney has served as a Special Prosecutor in Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Vermont and, on behalf of NAAG, has authored an analysis of the operations of state grand jury practice. He travels regularly to visit in offices of attorney general where he conducts ethics seminars for attorneys general and their staffs. He received his J.D. from University of Maine, Portland, and his B.A., highest honors, from the University of Maine, Orono.




Meryl Justin Chertoff, Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Executive Director, Georgetown Project on State and Local Government Policy and Law, SALPAL


Meryl Chertoff is the Executive Director of SALPAL and an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown Law. She is Managing Editor of SLoGLaw, the State and Local Government Blog. From 2009 to 2019 she served as the Executive Director of The Aspen Institute’s Justice and Society Program. Among her notable work at Aspen was direction of seminars for judges, lawyers and state government officials, creation of the Inclusive America Project, and direction of the Sandra Day O’Connor Conversation.

Professor Chertoff has had a variety of positions in and around state government. She was Director of the New Jersey Washington Office, served on the legislative staff of a New Jersey Assembly leader, and worked as a lobbyist in Trenton. Professor Chertoff worked in the Office of Legislative Affairs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) participating in the agency’s transition into the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

From 2006-2009 she directed the Sandra Day O’Connor Project at Georgetown Law, on judicial independence and civic education.

She is a graduate of Harvard College and Law School, and served as a law clerk to Federal District Judge Myron H. Thompson (M.D. Ala).

She contributes opinion writing to The Hill, Bloomberg Law, and other publications, has provided expert testimony before state legislatures on various bills, and provides briefings on American federalism to international visitors through US State Department sponsored programs.

Professor Chertoff is admitted to the Bar in New York and New Jersey, is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and served as an ABA Advisor to the Uniform Law Commission’s Study Committee on State Governance During Public Health Emergencies in 2020. She is a member of the Board of ChangeLab Solutions.