The Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) is a bipartisan group, originally of Western states, now including a majority of U.S. states and several other countries. Initially organized around legal areas of interests such as water, Indians, public lands, minerals and energy, CWAG has expanded to providing bipartisan discussions focusing on the legal developments in emerging issues facing Attorneys General as well as Rule of Law programing in the country of Mexico and seven African nations.
CWAG’s primary focus in the United States is to provide a forum for chief legal officers of member states and jurisdictions to cultivate knowledge, cooperate on concerns and coordinate actions which improve the quality of legal services available to members. These conferences vary in focus and messaging, but always include important public policy discussions. These conferences are attended by Attorneys General and their staff from within the CWAG region, across the country and often include an international component. CWAG’s coordination of litigation and information is vital in assisting the interplay between federal, state and foreign officials.
Since 1982 CWAG has employed its own staff to coordinate litigation, legislative efforts and information to assist western states on both regional and national levels. CWAG provides assistance to members by serving as a central clearinghouse for information and legal strategies, facilitating interstate working relationships and enhancing expertise by providing timely information.
CWAG plans and sponsors an annual conference along with several topic specific meetings such Indian Gaming Seminars, Takings Seminars and Energy Issues Seminars. These conferences are attended by Attorneys General and their staff from within the CWAG region, across the country and have had international exposure with participation by both Canadian and Mexican Attorneys General. CWAG maintains communication with federal officials and Congressional contacts, monitors legislation and provides questions for confirmation hearings. CWAG works closely with the National Association of Attorneys General on many projects, including issues like methamphetamines, criminal law and identification theft.
CWAG provides information and articulates western state views on federal issues and legislation. CWAG maintains regular contacts with and initiates meetings with many federal agencies. The National Indian Gaming Commission, U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Energy regularly solicit input and cooperation from CWAG on matters of concern or interest to western states. A common theme with these entities is the tension between state and federal sovereigns. CWAG has created a channel through which western concerns and suggestions are conveyed and answered.
The Western Attorneys General Litigation Action Committee (WAGLAC) is comprised of key deputies and staff people within the Attorney General’s offices who are primarily responsible for carrying out the analysis of legal issues and coordination of litigation in water law, Indian law, public lands law, environmental law and energy law. Each Attorney General designates one or more staff members to attend meetings and carry out committee projects. The committee provides a forum for study and discussion through quarterly meetings, information exchanges, seminars and working groups.
WAGLAC members contribute to both short term and long term projects including filings of amicus briefs, exchange of legal expertise, reports and recommendations on selected legal issues. Successful long term projects include the publication in 1993 of the American Indian Law Deskbook, a legal treatise on Indian law which has received national recognition. The Deskbook has been updated annually since the initial publication and, beginning in 2013, the Deskbook has been published by Thomson Reuters. Please see the link to order the Deskbook under “Resources” on this website. The group was also instrumental in developing two books published in 1987 and 1988, Federal Lands and the Reserved Water Rights Settlement Manual.
Rule of Law Programs
The CWAG Alliance Partnership is an international rule of law program supported by the state Attorneys General’s Offices (AGOs) of 42 US states and jurisdictions. The CWAG Alliance Partnership promotes collaboration among state Attorneys General from participating countries; supports greater efficiency and transparency in criminal, civil and commercial judicial systems; and provides training programs that promote the effective investigation and prosecution of transnational criminal activity.
The CWAG Africa Alliance Partnership seeks to establish and foster robust relationships with justice and law enforcement agencies and officials in Africa to support the rule of law and combat transnational criminal activity. CWAG collaborates with African Ministries of Justice, Attorneys General, Solicitors General and Public Prosecution agencies to share knowledge and experiences in the fight against crimes like human trafficking, corruption, money laundering, cybercrime and other cross border crimes.
Cyber Security Working Group
With an ever-increasing focus on cyber security, state attorneys general are turning their attention from discussions and dialogue, to action. This limited, invitation-only group is comprised of attorneys general, senior staff, and internal cyber security experts, who have come to the realization that independently, individual states cannot effectively deal with this criminal activity. In their view, having the ability to coordinate actions across multistate jurisdictions and in collaboration with private sector experts, lays the foundation for a national cyber crime initiative with teeth.
CWAG publishes a weekly Roundup, which serves as a valuable tool to keep members and the interested public informed about the important work our attorneys general do and the activities of CWAG.
Inquiries and Amicus Requests
CWAG acts as a clearinghouse for questions from member states and for the distribution of amicus requests for member states. This provides a valuable resource to AGO staff when a unique legal issue is encountered and staff is looking for someone who has worked on such issues.
For additional information about CWAG and its programs, please contact CWAG Executive Director Karen White at (916) 323-1992 or firstname.lastname@example.org.