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NEW YORK – July 11, 2019 – Jenner & Block announced today that Seth H. Agata, former Executive Director of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), has joined the firm’s Litigation Department. He is based in the firm’s New York office.
Mr. Agata is one of the nation’s leading professionals on the regulation of lobbying and the ethics laws governing public official conduct. Appointed by the 14-member bipartisan commission in 2016, Mr. Agata administered the regulation of lobbying at the state and local level as well as the ethics laws governing the conduct of both elected and non-elected New York State officers, including all statewide elected officials and state legislators. Under his leadership, JCOPE investigated and prosecuted violations of the Public Officers Law and New York’s Lobbying Act and rendered formal and informal advisory opinions on complying with these laws. He also oversaw public filing systems—including comprehensive lobbying and financial disclosure filings—and the formulation of policy under lobbying and ethics laws. Under Mr. Agata’s direction, notably, JCOPE promulgated the first comprehensive lobbying regulations in New York State history and revamped post-employment “revolving door” restrictions.
He joins a team of experienced former government officials and litigators to expand the firm’s compliance and disputes offerings. Jenner & Block’s Lobbying Law and Government Ethics group advises and assists clients in their compliance with, and disputes related to, lobbying, election and public ethics laws in New York and other states, as well as Washington, DC.
“We are pleased to welcome Seth to the firm,” said Susan J. Kohlmann, Jenner & Block’s New York office managing partner and a member of the firm’s Policy Committee. “His experience at the highest level of state government and knowledge of public ethics and lobbying law compliance, as well as his litigation skills, will be a tremendous benefit to clients.”
“Seth is one of the foremost national authorities on lobbying regulation and public ethics areas that have increasing significance across many industries. He will bring his extensive knowledge and experience to bear on the most complex compliance and legal challenges clients face around the country,” added Partner Jeremy M. Creelan, who is also a member of the firm’s Lobbying Law and Government Ethics group.
Prior to JCOPE, Mr. Agata was Chair of the New York State Public Employment Relations Board. Before that, he served as Acting Counsel to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. Mr. Agata was also a counsel for the New York Assembly from 2001 to 2010 and served as Counsel for Investigations in the New York State Comptroller’s office and as an assistant district attorney.
“After almost 25 years of government service, I’m excited to join Jenner & Block, a firm with a rich tradition of excellence, dedication to pro bono and commitment to serving the public,” said Mr. Agata. “I look forward to working with top talent across offices and to helping augment the firm’s compliance platform.”
Mr. Agata is the fourth New York office lateral hire since the beginning of the year. In January, M&A lawyer Robert J. Rawn joined the firm’s Corporate Practice. In March, Mélida Hodgson joined the firm’s International Arbitration Practice and Charles D. Riely, a former assistant regional director for the Division of Enforcement of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, joined the firm’s Investigations, Compliance and Defense Practice.