AG Schwalb Announces Emily Gunston Promoted to First Assistant Attorney General

Gunston, a Respected Civil Rights Attorney, Already Serves on AG’S Leadership Team

WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb today announced that Emily Gunston has been promoted to First Assistant Attorney General for the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), effective March 17, 2023. Ms. Gunston, who currently serves as Deputy Attorney General for Policy and Legislative Affairs and Senior Counsel to the Attorney General, will report directly to the Attorney General and help lead the agency’s legal practice and operations.

“Emily is one of the most talented, hard-working attorneys with whom I have ever worked,” said AG Schwalb. Her sharp intellect, excellent judgment, and commitment to advancing racial and economic justice have made her a key part of OAG’s senior leadership team. She brings to the role over two decades of experience in criminal justice reform, extensive litigation and management experience, as well as deep knowledge of our office and District government.” 

The First Assistant Attorney General works with the Chief Deputy Attorney General to supervise OAG’s Divisions and advise the Attorney General on the full range of issues affecting the agency, including management of OAG’s annual budget of more than $150 million. Ms. Gunston will have primary responsibility for one of AG Schwalb’s highest priorities – working to improve healthy and hopeful outcomes for District children, including by supervising OAG’s Public Safety, Family Services, and Child Support Services Divisions. In her previous role as Deputy Attorney General for Policy and Legislative Affairs and Senior Counsel, Ms. Gunston, in addition to advising the Attorney General on legal, policy, and operational matters, created, developed, and supervised OAG’s Policy and Legislative Affairs Team, managing the entirety of OAG’s policy and legislative work and serving as the Agency’s principal liaison to the Council. She also has served on various boards and commissions on behalf of OAG, including the Police Reform Commission, the Jails & Justice Task Force, and the Clemency Board. 

Before joining OAG, Ms. Gunston served as Deputy Legal Director at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, where she directed the Committee’s criminal legal system reform work. In that role, she developed and led complex civil rights lawsuits and engaged in policy advocacy in the areas of police accountability, prison conditions, parole and compassionate release, and the criminalization of poverty. Before joining the Committee, Ms. Gunston served for nine years in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where she helped lead the Division’s group conducting pattern or practice investigations of police departments. Ms. Gunston led some of the Civil Rights Division’s highest profile and politically sensitive cases, including the enforcement of the consent decree to reform the New Orleans Police Department and the civil investigation of the Chicago Police Department. Prior to joining DOJ, Ms. Gunston also served for eight years as a public defender in Contra Costa County, California.

Ms. Gunston received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.