Division of General Law

The Division of General Law (DGL) is responsible for a variety of legal matters including procurement, patents and intellectual property, tort claims, labor law and personnel matters, insular areas, and other general and administrative legal issues. This division also provides legal assistance to the Assistant Secretary – Policy, Management, and Budget; the Chief Information Officer; and the Endangered Species Committee.  

The Acting Associate Solicitor for the Division of General Law is Tony Irish. The general contact for DGL is 202-208-7586.

The Branch of Acquisitions and Intellectual Property (AIP) is responsible for two main areas, the first of which focuses on the acquisition and procurement of information technology and communications systems for DOI. This involves drafting a wide variety of contracts and grants and advising on the full breadth of the federal acquisitions regulations. This branch also protects DOI’s intellectual property and supports the development of trademarked designs and patented technologies and promotes technology transfer from DOI's bureaus to other Federal and non-Federal entities, including industrial for-profit organizations. Another important aspect of this branch’s work is preventing DOI from infringing upon the intellectual property of third parties.  

The Employment and Labor Law Unit (ELLU) is a national practice group with responsibility for a broad range of personnel matters involving DOI’s 70,000 employees. This unit represents DOI in defensive litigation before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Merit Systems Protection Board and Federal courts, and it also brings claims regarding personnel issues. The members of this unit serve as advisors to managers and HR professionals on employment issues, including performance-related actions, disciplinary proceedings, whistleblowing, reasonable accommodation requests under the Rehabilitation Act, civil rights matters, age discrimination claims, harassment accusations, and more.  

The Branch of General Legal Services (GLS) provides advice to the Office of the Secretary, the Office of the Solicitor, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Offices of Insular and International Affairs. Its work spans a diverse set of issues: administrative law, appropriations law, bankruptcy, information law, international firefighting agreements, law enforcement, travel, scientific integrity, and matters involving Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. As an example of the branch’s work with Pacific Islanders, the branch provides legal support to the Special Representative of the U.S. to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and supports Section 902 Consultations, which allow for consideration of issues that affect both nations. 

The Torts Practice Branch (TPB) national practice group was established in 2017 to provide a unified and comprehensive approach to managing the tort claims that are filed against DOI pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The FTCA allows individuals to file monetary claims against the United States for injury to or loss of property or for personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of a Government employee while acting within the scope of their official duties. The TPB issues legal determinations on administrative tort and employee claims and provides legal analysis and guidance to DOI’s bureaus and the U.S. Department of Justice regarding FTCA litigation. In addition, the TPB provides proactive risk-management counsel to the bureaus in an effort to reduce the number of overall tort and employee claims received by DOI annually. 

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