The job of a state attorney general is a difficult one. State AGs must interface with federal regulators and attorneys general from other states while prioritizing the issues that are top concerns for their constituents. It’s a tricky balancing act, but one that is necessary for the benefit of all.
The state of Nevada faces issues that are common to all states, but its position in the western portion of the US provides some unique challenges. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto knows that her state has a number of challenges that must be faced head on.
“We are focusing on mortgage fraud, human trafficking, sex trafficking,” Masto says. “One of the most important things we can do is reach out to the community on the consumer protection side. I was recently in Elko, Nev., talking to senior citizens about scams and schemes and how they can protect themselves.
Because many of these matters cross state boundaries, to meet these challenges, she must work side-by-side with others to do right by the citizens of her state.
Frequently, AG Masto finds herself collaborating closely with attorneys general of other states. “The Conference of Western Attorneys General – every year we have a regular meeting,” she says. “These associations, are important, whether the western or national associations. We talk about issues we have in common. AG duties and functions are unique, and the only entities with similar jurisdiction are other AGs.” So the attorneys general discuss best practices and network, working together on amicus briefs and appeals, for example.
In addition, she finds her office working alongside federal regulators “quite often” on a number of different matters. “It could be a land issue in Nevada,” she says. “Over 80 percent of the land in the state is managed by the federal government.” She finds herself working on matters such as water issues, anti-trust investigations and mortgage fraud. She works with regulators at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the office of Housing and Urban Development, sometimes in accord with regulators and sometimes on the opposite side. The key to managing the relationship with regulators, she says, is to talk to them personally whenever there is a matter that impacts the people of Nevada.
Attorney General Masto will be speaking about the relationship between state AGs and federal regulators at the upcoming Women, Influence & Power in Law Conference in Washington, DC. The event provides an opportunity for women inside and outside counsel to network and share ideas. Alongside FTC Commissioner Julie Brill, AG Masto will discuss how AGs and federal regulators make decisions regarding investigations and enforcement actions.
“When I first became an attorney, I looked at female attorneys and saw only a handful that had blazed a trail,” Mastos says. “I thought that you had to ‘assimilate,’ and dress and act like a man to be successful, but that has changed, thank goodness… In general, women bring a different perspective – not better or worse, just different.”
The Women, Influence & Power in Law conference offers an opportunity for unprecedented exchange with women inside and outside counsel. The event runs from Sept. 17-19 and is being held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.