Legal Expense Funds
The Legal Expense Fund Regulation goes into effect November 21, 2023.
An executive branch employee may establish a legal expense fund so that they can accept donations to help pay for expenses from legal matters arising in connection with the employee’s current or former official position, the employee’s prior position on a Presidential or Vice Presidential campaign, or the employee’s prior position on a Presidential Transition Team.
Responsibilities of the Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO)
The DAEO, acting directly or through other officials, is responsible for carrying out an effective legal expense fund program. These responsibilities include:
- Developing and maintaining policies and procedures.
- Providing guidance to employees in creating a legal expense fund trust and completing quarterly and termination reports.
- Collecting reports and reviewing requests for extensions.
- Reviewing the trust form for compliance with the Legal Expense Fund Regulation, 5 CFR part 2635, subpart J.
- Reviewing quarterly and termination reports for technical sufficiency and substantive ethics concerns.
- If improper donations are accepted, tracking the return of the payment.
- Submitting to OGE the reports that require second-level review.
- Maintaining an adequate system of records in accordance with applicable disposition rules.
Key Legal Authorities
5 C.F.R. § 2635.204(n)
Gift rule exception for legal expense funds
5 C.F.R. part 2635, subpart J
Legal Expense Fund Regulation
5 C.F.R. § 2638.104(c)(8)
Responsibilities of the DAEO for carrying out an effective financial disclosure program
LA-23-05: Overview of Legal Expense Fund Regulation (PDF)
This Legal Advisory provides an overview of the final Legal Expense Fund Regulation published on May 25, 2023.
LA-23-07: Pro Bono (PDF)
This Legal Advisory addresses anticipated questions on pro bono services for employees; however, OGE recommends that any employee considering accepting pro bono services consult with their ethics official.
Quarterly Report Form OGE-601 (PDF)
Employee beneficiaries will fill out an OGE-601 each quarter to report contributions to and distributions from their Legal Expense Funds, as well as a termination OGE-601 when the LEF trust is terminated.
Sample Trustee Information Format (PDF)
This template provides an example of the type of information to be collected about the trustee. This information is needed to ensure the trustee meets the requirements of Subpart J of 5 CFR § 2635 and in case you need to reach out to the trustee during the life of the Legal Expense Fund.
IEG LEF Training Resources
All of the Institute for Ethics in Government training resources on Legal Expense Funds can be found on this page, which will be updated as new training resources are added.