Meese served as California Gov. Ronald Reagan's legal-affairs secretary from 1967 to 1968 and as his executive assistant and chief of staff from 1969 to 1974. Prior to joining Reagan's staff, he was deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California.
From 1977 to 1981, Meese was a professor of law at the University of San Diego
, where he was also director of the Center for Criminal Justice Policy and Management. From 1981 to 1985, he served as counselor to President Reagan. As the 75th Attorney General of the United States from 1985 to 1988, he led international efforts to combat terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime. He also served as chairman of the White House Domestic Policy Council and the National Drug Policy Board.