"If we see something that seems silly or excessive or contrary to the rule of law, we would volunteer that information to the state agency clients," he said. "That's when you can both weigh in on legal issues but also provide assistance to your client. Being a lawyer isn't only about being a litigator; it's about being an advocate. It's about being a counselor."
Morrisey said the Attorney General's Office also could investigate businesses or state agencies not complying with the rule of law. That includes the office's consumer protection division, which enters class action lawsuits on behalf of state residents.
He said the office also can advise agencies on the way they comply with state law.
"My philosophy is, we want to ensure 100 percent compliance with all laws. But if there is a less burdensome way to comply with the law, that's perfectly reasonable. The goal is not to saddle businesses with unbearable burdens," he said.
The office's recent work on West Virginia University's media rights controversy also is an example of the many roles of the attorney general, Morrisey said.
Earlier in the year, WVU officials contacted Morrisey's newly created Public Integrity Unit to ask for a review of its media rights contracts. Sources have said WVU was set to sign over its Tier 3 broadcasting and marketing rights to the media firm IMG College as part of a 12-year, $110 million contract.
But John Raese, owner of West Virginia Radio Corp., alleged there were conflicts of interest in the bidding process. West Virginia Radio Corp. currently handles radio broadcasts of WVU games and also bid on Tier 3 games.
Enter the Attorney General's Office. After a five-week review of the situation, Morrisey found no evidence of "intentional wrongdoing" in the bidding process but found "significant errors and sloppiness." He recommended the university start the bidding process over.
Morrisey said his office was both acting as WVU's attorney and investigating potential improprieties of a state agency.
Writer Jared Hunt contributed to this report.