Louis G. Ferrand Jr., 70, who retired in 2007 as legal adviser to the secretary-general of the Organization of American States, died Dec. 29 at Capital Caring hospice in Arlington County. He had encephalitis, a swelling of the brain.

His wife, Mary Ferrand, confirmed the death.

Mr. Ferrand, an Alexandria resident, joined the OAS in 1990 and for several years was director of the office of general legal services. Among other duties, he was a primary negotiator on matters involving representatives of governments and agencies of OAS member countries.

His legal career began in 1971 when he was hired into the honors program at the Justice Department. He became a trial lawyer in the Civil Rights Division’s employment section and tried cases involving allegations of racial discrimination.

In 1976, Mr. Ferrand continued his civil rights legal career at the Department of Labor. He helped spearhead a litigation unit that focused on discrimination in employment by federal government contractors, especially discrimination based on sex.

During his 12 years at the Labor Department, he became its deputy associate solicitor for civil rights and then deputy associate solicitor for mine safety and health.

Louis George Ferrand Jr. was a native of Rockford, Mich. He was a 1964 graduate of Alma College in Michigan and a 1971 graduate of the University of Michigan law school. As a law student, he helped start a civil rights program in Brooklyn, N.Y.

From 1966 to 1968, he was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic and helped start agricultural marketing cooperatives for grapes and coffee.

Mr. Ferrand was a past secretary-general of the Inter-American Bar Association and served on its executive committee. He was a founder and past president of the Federal American Inn of Court in Washington, a professional organization for lawyers.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Mary Braseth Ferrand of Alexandria; three children, Anne O’Neill of Alexandria and Gregory L. Ferrand and Jacqueline Ferrand, both of the Washington; two sisters, Nancy Boxall of Alexandria and Katherine Cranney of Minneapolis; a brother, Denis Ferrand of San Antonio; and four grandsons.

— Adam Bernstein