Briefing on State Legal Considerations Related to Gubernatorial Transition Planning

On Thursday, October 27, the National Governors Association hosted a briefing on State Legal Considerations Related to Gubernatorial Transition Planning. The call featured a discussion with governors’ counsel who are currently supporting a transition or who have served on a gubernatorial transition in the past.

All Governors experience both sides of a transition—coming into office and going out. For incumbent Governors and their staff, transition planning begins well before an election. It involves preparing for the administrative and logistical sides of a transition, taking final executive actions, and documenting the Governor’s legacy. It also involves developing materials for, engaging with, and assisting the incoming administration. While no transition will be perfect, advance planning will increase the odds that transition assistance will be well-offered and well-received. Ultimately, a smooth transition will benefit the state and the residents within.

In terms of engaging the new administration, incumbent legal counsel often prepare resources for incoming staff. Briefing materials and other products made available to the incoming transition team will vary, particularly in light of the incoming administration, but may include providing a description of key job responsibilities, highlighting major legal issues, sharing existing clemency guidelines, information on state agency coordination (e.g., major projects or contracts), and other items.

In addition to engaging with and assisting the incoming administration, Governors’ legal counsel will also be involved with various administrative aspects of the transition, as well as supporting final executive actions. These actions may involve managing public records, making final clemency actions, handling pending litigation, and emergency preparedness coordination to ensure that current response or recovery efforts are transferred with a smooth hand-off.

For more information about NGA’s legal counsel network, please reach out to Lauren Dedon (