Seth Harris
Visiting Professor
Cornell Institute for Public Affairs

295 Caldwell Hall



Seth D. Harris is an attorney in Washington, D.C. and a Visiting Professor at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs. Building on almost seven years of service in the Clinton Administration, he was Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor (and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet) and Deputy U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2009 to 2014.  

Professor Harris brings decades of experience as a teacher and scholar, attorney and advisor, corporate board member, and policymaker at the highest levels of the U.S. Government. He has co-authored three books, including Labor and Employment Law & Economics, and authored dozens of scholarly articles and op-eds on labor, employment, leadership, government performance, retirement, and economic topics. He offers unique and valuable insights into leadership in public policy and public affairs, as well as his insider’s knowledge of the Obama Administration, the Clinton Administration, and the federal government’s executive branch.

Professor Harris was a Distinguished Scholar at Cornell's School of Industrial & Labor Relations from 2014 to 2016, and spent nine years as a Professor and Director of Labor & Employment Law Programs at New York Law School prior to his service in the Obama Administration.  He earned a bachelor of science degree with honors from Cornell University’s School of Industrial & Labor Relations and a juris doctor with honors from New York University’s School of Law, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and editor-in-chief of the Review of Law & Social Change.


Most recently, I have written about labor and employment law in the "gig economy" or "online platform" economy.  I have written extensively over the course of my career about the economics of labor and employment law.  I have also written about government management and leadership.


Seth D. Harris, Joseph E. Slater, Anne M. Lofaso, and Charlotte Garden, Modern Labor Relations in the Private Sector and Public Sector: Cases and Materials (Lexis Publishing 2d ed. 2016; 1st ed. 2013).

Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, Seth D. Harris, and Orly Lobel, eds., Labor and Employment Law and Economics (Edward Elgar Pub. 2009).

James P. Baker, David B. Mixner, and Seth D. Harris, The State of Disability in America: An Evaluation of the Disability Experience by the Life Without Limits Project (UCP 2007).

Book Chapters

Seth D. Harris and Michael Ashley Stein, “Workplace Disability,” in Labor and Employment Law and Economics (Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, Seth D. Harris, and Orly Lobel, eds.) (Edward Elgar Pub. 2009).

Seth D. Harris, “The Mis-Directed Debate Over the Economics of Disabilities Accommodations,” in Human Resources Economics and Public Policy: Essays in Honor of Vernon M. Briggs, Jr. (Charles J. Whalen, ed.) (W.E. Upjohn Inst. 2009).


Seth D. Harris, “Workers, Benefits and Protections in the U.S. Gig Economy,” Global L. Rev. (Sept. 2018) (Chinese)

Seth D. Harris and Alan B. Krueger, “Is your Uber driver an ‘employee’ or an ‘independent contractor’?,” 20 Perspectives on Work 30 (Lab. & Emplt. Res. Ass’n 2016)

Seth D. Harris and Alan B. Krueger, “The Gig Economy: How to Modernize the Rules of Work to Fit the Times,” 18 Milken Inst. Rev. 16 (Q2 2016).

Seth D. Harris and Alan B. Krueger, “A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for 21st-Century Work: The ‘Independent Worker’,” The Hamilton Project, Brookings Institution (Dec. 2015).

Seth D. Harris, “Managing for Social Change: Improving Labor Department Performance in a Partisan Era,” 117 W. Va. L. Rev. 987 (Spring 2015).

Seth D. Harris, “Disabilities Accommodations, Transaction Costs, and Mediation: Evidence from the EEOC’s Mediation Program,” 13 Harv. Negot. L. Rev. 1  (Winter 2008).

Seth D. Harris, “Law, Economics, and Accommodations in the Internal Labor Market,” 10 U. Pa. J. Bus. & Lab. L. 1 (Fall 2007).

Seth D. Harris, “Don’t Mourn — Reorganize!: An Introduction to the Next Wave Organizing Conference Volume,” 49 N.Y.L.Sch. L. Rev. 303 (2005-2006)

Seth D. Harris, “Innocence and The Sopranos,” 49 N.Y. L. Sch L. Rev. 577 (2004-2005).

Seth D. Harris, “Introduction: Understanding the Context for the ‘Coehlo Challenge’,” 48 N.Y. L. Sch. L. Rev. 711 ( 2004).

Seth D. Harris, “Re-Thinking the Economics of Discrimination: US Airways v. Barnett, the ADA, and the Application of Internal Labor Markets Theory,” 89  Iowa L. Rev. 123 (Oct. 2003).

Seth D. Harris, “Coase’s Paradox and the Inefficiency of Permanent Strike Replacements,” 80 Wash. U. L.Q. 1185 (2002) - Winner, 2003 Otto L. Walter Distinguished Writing Award, Best Law Review Article

Seth D. Harris, Esq. | Law & Policy - Founder of solo law and policy practice. Counsel and represent clients with respect to corporate and political strategy, regulatory compliance, public policy, regulatory policy, government relations, and labor and employment issues.

Remesh, Inc. – Member, Board of Advisors - Non-voting advisor to Board of Directors and senior management of an artificial-intelligence and machine-based learning market and opinion research company. 

Sokanu – Member, Board of Advisors - Non-voting advisor to Board of Directors and senior management of the world's leading career discovery solution and data company.

Critical Nurse Staffing – Member, Board of Advisors- Non-voting advisor to Board of Directors and senior management of a home health and professional nursing services corporation serving former energy and federal employees, and others with chronic conditions.

Employer Services Assurance Corporation – Member, Board of Directors - Independent director on the 21-member board of directors of a not-for-profit accreditation and financial assurance services corporation, serving the professional employer organization industry.

PADM 5118 - Leadership in Public Affairs - This course for CIPA students and undergraduates in the Cornell-in-Washington program addresses the role of leaders and leadership in public organizations.  

New York University School of Law - Juris Doctor cum laude, May 1990.

Editor-in-Chief, Review of Law & Social Change, 1989-90; Staff editor 1988-1989.

Honors: Order of the Coif; George P. Foulk Memorial Award; Leonard M. Henkin Prize; Review of Law & Social Change Prize; American Jurisprudence Award in Professional Responsibility.

Cornell University School of Industrial & Labor Relations - Bachelor of Science, 1983 (completed degree in three years).

Honors: Dean's List, Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society; Quill & Dagger Senior Honor Society.

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