The Office of the Legislative Counsel was established in 1953 primarily to furnish legal services to members of the Legislative Assembly and its committees. Prior to that, volunteers in private practice provided legal services to the Legislative Assembly.
The Office of the Legislative Counsel was created as the result of growing dissatisfaction with the quality of legal services supplied by the volunteer lawyers and with the manner in which those services were provided.
As the volume and importance of the work done by the Legislative Assembly grew, so did the need for a permanent, impartial legal staff to provide legal services to the entire assembly. At the creation of the office, statutes set out the requirements for the professional nature and impartiality of the services to be provided. ORS 173.230 specifies the confidential nature of the legal work performed, and ORS 173.240 prohibits the Legislative Counsel and staff members from opposing, urging or attempting to influence legislation.
In addition to drafting bills, conducting legal research and writing opinions, the Office of the Legislative Counsel compiles and publishes session laws and Oregon Revised Statutes and reviews administrative rules submitted by agencies of the executive branch of state government.
The Legislative Counsel Committee supervises the Office of the Legislative Counsel. The committee, which consists of the presiding officers of both houses of the Legislative Assembly and legislators appointed by the presiding officers, appoints the individual who serves as the Legislative Counsel. Subject to the approval of the committee, the Legislative Counsel appoints staff members necessary to carry out the work of the office.
Because of the politically sensitive nature of drafting bills and writing opinions, the guiding principle of the Office of the Legislative Counsel in performing these services has always been to avoid any appearance of advocating social policy or of political involvement or bias.
Legislative Counsel cannot respond to public requests for legal advice. To understand and protect your legal rights, consult your private lawyer. If you have questions or comments about the content of this web page, please
send LC an e-mail.