The Office of the General Counsel is under the supervision of the General Counsel, who serves as principal adviser to the Secretary on all legal matters affecting Departmental programs and activities. The Office has three legal practice areas, each of which is headed by a Deputy General Counsel, and an operations management staff, headed by an Executive Officer. The Office's seven Divisions are organized under these areas as follows:
- Division of Educational Equity
- Division of Elementary, Secondary, Adult, and Vocational Education
- Division of Business and Administrative Law
- Division of Postsecondary Education
- Division of Legislative Counsel
- Division of Regulatory Services
- Ethics Division
In performing its responsibilities, the Office of the General Counsel:
- Provides legal advice and services to the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and the Principal Officers of the U.S. Department of Education, as well as any other person authorized to request that advice or those services.
- Prepares or reviews for legal form and effect public documents, rules, and Federal Register Notices issued by the Department, and legal instruments entered into by the Department.
- Represents the Secretary, the Department, or any of its officers or units in court or administrative litigation, except for administrative proceedings initiated by the Office for Civil Rights.
- Serves as liaison to other Federal agencies in connection with legal matters involving the Department.
- Drafts legislative proposals originating in the Department and reviews the legal aspects of proposed or pending legislation.
- Leads and manages the regulatory function of the Department and drafts selected regulations.
- Prepares or reviews pleadings, briefs, memoranda, and other legal documents for proceedings involving the Department or requested by other Government agencies for use in proceedings, except for administrative proceedings initiated by the Office for Civil Rights.
- Coordinates and manages the Department's ethics program and provides Department-wide ethics advice and training.
- Serves as the Department's Claims Officer under the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act of 1964.