Seth D. Harris is a member of Dentons' Public Policy and Regulation practice.

Prior to joining Dentons, Seth served four and a half years as the US Deputy Secretary of Labor, and six months as Acting US Secretary of Labor and a member of President Barack Obama's Cabinet. A nationally recognized leader in his field, he counsels clients on matters relating to labor, employment and immigration law and policy, as well as government performance, regulatory policy and practice, public policy and national politics. 

As chief operating officer of the US Department of Labor, Seth restored the department to excellent performance and led the department’s contributions to the economy’s recovery from the Great Recession and to millions of Americans returning to work. Under his leadership, the Labor Department dramatically reduced workplace fatality and injury rates and aggressively promoted stronger and more effective labor standards for America’s trade partners and other countries. The department was also widely recognized as the federal government’s leader in evidence-based, data-driven performance management and measurement. Seth previously worked in the Labor Department during the Clinton administration as a policy, strategic, management and legal advisor to both Secretary Alexis Herman and Secretary Robert Reich. 

In January 2007, Seth agreed to chair Obama for America’s Labor, Employment and Workplace Policy Committee, and later founded the campaign’s Disability Policy Committee. He also advised then-Senator Obama on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. In August 2008, Seth joined the Obama-Biden transition planning committee’s Agency Review Working Group. After Election Day 2008, he oversaw the Obama-Biden transition team’s efforts in the Labor, Education and Transportation departments and 12 other agencies. President Obama nominated Seth to be deputy secretary of Labor in February 2009. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in May 2009. He became the acting secretary on January 22, 2013, and served in President Obama’s Cabinet until late July 2013.

Prior to re-joining the Labor Department, Seth served as a professor of law at New York Law School and director of its Labor and Employment Law programs, and served as a visiting professor of law at Seton Hall Law School.

Seth is a graduate of the New York University School of Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the Review of Law and Social Change. He served as a law clerk to Judge William Canby of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and to Judge Gene Carter of the US District Court for the District of Maine. He received his Bachelor of Sciences degree from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. Seth recently returned to Cornell, where he will be a Distinguished Scholar teaching courses and conducting scholarly research.



  • New York University, School of Law, 1990, JD
  • Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, 1983, BS