Copland explains how there's a problem when elected AGs hand over to their contributors cases that are often slam-dunk sources of fee awards. Those awards diminish the amount of money available to pay the state, but also might come from cases the government otherwise wouldn't file, for good reason.
Although state AGs' offices may need to hire outside attorneys because they lack in-house manpower and institutional expertise to handle all legal matters, states' contracting with such lawyers on a contingency-fee basis -- the common private practice of paying lawyers nothing up front in exchange for a share of the litigation proceeds -- raises hosts of ethical quandaries.
The huge windfall fees generated by state-sponsored litigation bear little relationship to work performed and create at least the appearance of "pay to play" arrangements in which lawyers donate campaign dollars to state officials who return the favor by handing their donors no-bid contracts entitling them to monies that would, assuming the underlying lawsuits have merit, more properly belong to the state's taxpayers.
Moreover, by avoiding the need for legislative appropriations and undertaking lawsuits with broad regulatory goals, state AGs have often been circumventing legislatures in setting policy. Indeed, the AGs are often essentially delegating such authority to private parties with venal interests, because in many instances the lawsuits do not originate with the state officials but rather the private attorneys who approach them with ideas.