As their state’s chief legal officer, state attorneys general (AGs) wield broad authority to investigate and take action on virtually any subject and in any industry. With the increasing use of the office as a springboard for higher political ambitions, AGs across the country are continuing to grow in prominence, power, and influence. Any company that hires employees, makes or sells a product, offers a service, conducts marketing, or engages with consumers may be subject to scrutiny by an AG.
Cozen O’Connor was one of the first firms to establish a team dedicated to representing clients in AG investigations and litigation, and counselling clients on state AG matters. Our attorneys work at the cutting edge of issues of critical importance to AGs, including antitrust, cybersecurity, data privacy, consumer protection, the environment, and labor laws. We serve a wide range of clients, from nimble start-ups to Fortune 50 companies. With more than 40 years’ experience, and backed by the resources of an AmLaw Global 100 firm, we help companies analyze and interpret AGs’ interests and understand how those interests inform their enforcement and policy priorities. We actively engage in dialogue with AG offices and regularly attend AG events and meetings to advocate on our clients’ behalf. Our team is nationally recognized for our deep understanding of how every AG office operates and our relationships in the AG community. When AGs, either alone, in multi-state actions, or jointly with federal agencies, focus their attention on a company’s activities or business practices and an investigation or lawsuit ensues, we have the experience and knowledge to mount a vigorous defense.
Members of the Cozen O’Connor State AG Group have served both in senior government and in-house positions, providing us with a unique perspective and ability to assist our clients. We have first-hand experience in the formulation of policy positions and long-standing professional relationships with key decision-makers. We also appreciate the imperatives of business, and are focused on achieving practical solutions that align with our clients’ long term strategic business goals.
Our services include:
Establishing and maintaining dialogue with AGs
Anticipating and crafting creative solutions to address state AG and federal agency policy positions that impact clients
Minimizing litigation exposure
Defending vigorously against AG investigations and lawsuits
As the internet has revolutionized business, whole industries such as transportation, gaming, energy, financial services and hospitality have been turned on their heads by new entrants, new technologies, and new ways of doing business. We have particular experience working with clients to address the “square peg, round hole” issues brought by innovators in these “disrupted” industries, as well as in other industries such as banking, software and technology, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and nutritional and dietary supplements.
AFFIRMATIVE OUTREACH EFFORTS AND CAMPAIGNS
State AGs can be powerful allies, or indeed adversaries, when it comes to causes and issues their constituents care about. Our team formulates and executes multi-pronged outreach and advocacy efforts to educate AGs and encourage action that supports our clients’ business goals. Based on our in-depth knowledge of policy, state law, and individual AGs’ priorities, we focus on those AGs where there is alignment with our clients’ business objectives. We aim to control and shape our clients’ narrative, before someone else does.
State AGs can have a significant impact on the outcome of litigation as amici. Our team regularly works with clients to identify state AG champions who would have a stake in Supreme Court cases affecting their interests and have secured AG amicus support in the U.S. Supreme Court in many landmark cases, including Concepcion, Twombly and linkLine.
INVESTIGATIONS AND LITIGATION
As the chief consumer protection advocates in their states, AGs regularly investigate and take enforcement action against businesses under their states’ unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices laws (commonly referred to as UDAP laws). Our team has successfully resolved investigations and other enforcement actions involving all 50 states and the District of Columbia in connection with alleged violations of consumer protection laws involving sales, marketing, pricing, and labeling of products and services. On behalf of our clients, we also regularly work with consumer protection staff within state AG offices to address consumer complaints and resolve potential disputes before they escalate to lengthy and expensive litigation or investigations.
We also have extensive experience advising clients in antitrust matters involving state and federal competition enforcers, particularly as federal agencies have begun coordinating and undertaking joint actions with their AG counterparts. Our lawyers regularly handle investigations and high-stakes litigation involving state AGs and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). We regularly clear mergers with AG antitrust enforcers, and have represented clients with respect to the largest mergers in the telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries.
COMPLEX DISPUTE RESOLUTION
With a deep bench of experience defending actions brought by AGs, our team defends companies facing civil investigative demands, subpoenas, and lawsuits. Given today’s rapid escalation in active enforcement, AG action can result in critical business exposure. AGs may act alone, as part of a multi-state action, or in concert with other federal regulators such as the DOJ, FTC, CFPB, FCC, and SEC, as well as Congress. We have represented clients in large and complex “bet-the-company” suits that often present novel legal issues and involve coordinated action by numerous AGs. We work with our clients to facilitate favorable outcomes throughout the entirety of a matter from document collection, review and production, discovery, pre-trial motions, settlement negotiations, and, if necessary, trial.
DATA PRIVACY AND INFORMATION SECURITY
Enforcement of data protection and privacy laws has become an area of intense focus for AGs in recent years. We advise companies in the retail, finance, healthcare, credit card, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, and other industries on cybersecurity, data privacy, and information security matters before AGs. We conduct data breach counseling, represent clients facing AG scrutiny for their data management practices, assist clients in navigating the complex data breach notification process, and help resolve AG inquiries into data loss. We also conduct internal investigations and counsel clients with respect to the legal, political, and public relations issues that result from data breach incidents.