Patricia
Smith

Senior Counsel

Washington, D.C.

Areas of Expertise

Enforcement of Workplace Standards • Immigrants and Work • Nonstandard Workforce • Unemployment Insurance • Wage and Hour Protections

Biography

We are honored to welcome former Obama administration solicitor of labor M. Patricia Smith to NELP, where, as senior counsel, she will play a central role in developing and implementing the organization’s litigation work and other advocacy strategies that advance and defend workers’ rights.

As solicitor of labor from 2010 to January 2017, Tricia served as the chief legal adviser to two secretaries of labor and directed a staff of over 650 lawyers across the country. During her tenure, she transformed the solicitor’s office into one that aggressively litigated around worker protections and which worked closely with the Labor Department’s enforcement agencies to creatively advance workers’ interests through both enforcement and policy.

Tricia played a key role in the Labor Department’s signature achievements under Barack Obama, including rules advancing overtime protections, regulations protecting workers from deadly silica and coal dust, and a rule designed to prevent financial advisers from mishandling workers’ retirement funds. She also worked with the DOL enforcement agencies in developing and implementing major enforcement initiatives, including the Wage and Hour Division’s misclassification initiative and OSHA’s temporary worker initiative.

Prior to her tenure with the Department of Labor, Tricia served as the New York state commissioner of labor, where she led the enforcement of labor laws throughout the state, the administration of the state’s unemployment insurance system, and the administration of the public workforce system. She also previously served as chief of the Labor Bureau in the office of the New York state attorney general for eight years. In that role, she developed a system of active government labor law enforcement that became a model for other attorneys general and enforcement agencies across the country.

For eleven years prior to that, Tricia served as the deputy labor bureau chief in New York and as the labor bureau’s section chief, conducting and overseeing all aspects of labor law litigation involving New York State in state and federal trial and appellate courts, including two cases before the United States Supreme Court. Before joining the New York attorney general’s office, she worked for various legal services organizations, representing unemployment claimants, minimum wage workers, workers in federal job training programs, and job seekers.

A devoted public servant who is unrivaled in her expertise in labor law, Tricia has been quoted in many major media outlets, and has presented at numerous events and conferences over the years.

Education

New York University School of Law, J.D.
Trinity College, B.A.

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