Jenner & Block

Seth Agata, a special counsel in the Litigation Department, is the former Executive Director of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE).  He is one of the nation’s leading professionals on lobbying laws and regulations and the ethics laws governing public official conduct.  Joining the firm in 2019, Mr. Agata expands our compliance and disputes capabilities.

Mr. Agata was appointed Executive Director of JCOPE in March 2016.  In that role, he was responsible for administering lobbying and public ethics laws in New York State.  He had broad authority to manage 55-plus staff in three offices with all investigatory, regulatory and advisory work.  Under his direction, JCOPE launched the first comprehensive lobbying regulations in New York State history and revamped post-employment “revolving door” restrictions. 

Before joining JCOPE, Mr. Agata was Chair of the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) from 2015 to 2016.  PERB is a neutral regulatory and quasi-judicial body charged with resolving disputes between government employers and public employees.  Mr. Agata authored decisions, oversaw litigation, supervised staff and managed the administrative and policy-making aspects of the agency.

In the Executive Chamber of the Governor of New York, Mr. Agata held a variety of roles starting in 2011.  He was Assistant Counsel to the Governor, First Assistant Counsel and finally Acting Counsel from 2014 to 2015.  In that position, he supervised a staff of about 11 assistant counsels, oversaw legal policy in dozens of state agencies and advised the Governor on selecting judges to the New York Court of Appeals and to other courts and on clemencies and pardons.

Before joining the Governor’s staff, Mr. Agata held legal and policy positions for the New York State Assembly.  He also served as Counsel for Investigations in the Office of State Comptroller, an assistant district attorney for Columbia County, New York and as a trial examiner in the New York City Office of Collective Bargaining.  He began his career in private law practice in New York City and Columbia County.

He co-authored The History of the New York Court of Appeals, 1932-2003 (Columbia U. Press, 2006) and is a frequent speaker on topics related to public policy and ethics.