Seth Agata
Of Counsel

  office: (518) 821-1947
 fax: (646) 893-2682

Seth H. Agata is an attorney with more than 40 years experience encompassing government ethics, public sector labor law, criminal law and general litigation.

Immediately before joining the Law Offices of  César de Castro, he served  as Executive Director and Counsel to the Police Benevolent Association of New York State, a major New York state public sector labor union representing police officers employed by the State University of New York, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.  

He has also served as special counsel and founding co-chair of the Lobbying Law and Public Ethics Practice in the international law firm of Jenner & Block.

Before returning to the private sector, he was appointed Executive Director of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) where he was responsible for administering lobbying and public ethics laws in New York State. As Executive Director, JCOPE promulgated the first comprehensive lobbying regulations in New York State history, conducted numerous ethics and lobbying law violations and revamped post-employment “revolving door” restrictions.  

Following nomination by New York’s Governor and confirmation by the New York State Senate, he was appointed Chair of the New York State Public Employment Relations Board, New York’s neutral regulatory agency charged with regulating labor relations primarily, although not exclusively, in the public sector. 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 including Assistant Counsel and First Assistant Counsel to the Governor before being appointed as Acting Counsel to the Governor. In that position, he was the Governor’s chief legal and ethics officer,  oversaw policy in dozens of state agencies, drafted and negotiated legislation and the state budget 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 junior and senior legal and policy positions for the New York State Assembly Majority where, among other things, he helped negotiate and draft major amendments to New York State’s Penal Law and Criminal Procedure Law including reforming the so-called “Rockefeller Drug Laws” and establishing the Office of Indigent Legal Services. He also served as Counsel for Investigations in the Office of New York State Comptroller and as an assistant district attorney for Columbia County, New York where he tried felony and misdemeanor cases, argued appeals and presented cases to grand juries.  He began his career in private law practice in New York City and continued in private practice representing criminal defendants and litigants in Columbia County, New York, before entering New York State government with the State Assembly.

He is a co-author of The History of the New York Court of Appeals, 1932-2003 (Columbia U. Press, 2006) and has spoken and written on topics related to constitutional rights, public policy and ethics.  He is a contributing author to Lefkowitz on Public Sector Labor and Employment Law (4th Edition, New York State Bar Association).  He is a longtime member of the American Bar Association as well as the New York State Bar Association in which he serves on a number of committees including the Association’s select Special Committee to Examine the Selection of Judges for the New York Court of Appeals.  He is also an adjunct faculty member at Albany Law School’s graduate program where he teaches government ethics in its Government Affairs and Advocacy Program.

He is a 1979 graduate of Cornell University (School of Industrial and Labor Relations) and a 1982 graduate of the Cornell Law School.