Outline and Boxes on a Blue Blackground

Law of the Workplace

We live in the age of the gig economy and globalized labor. Questions surrounding regulations in the workplace, relationships between the individual and the employer, even the very definition of “employee” significantly impact society’s structure and individuals’ quality of life. Labor and employment law are central to these conversations.

How can the law adapt to and anticipate the evolving nature of employment?

In her book Philosophical Foundations of Labour Law, Gillian Lester, Columbia Law School Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, notes that work has changed so dramatically that it can be difficult to connect it to traditional concepts on which labor law has been based. Columbia Law School gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in this rapidly changing field via courses, clinics, research, and other experiential learning opportunities.

Why Columbia Law?

Explore the significant legal and philosophical questions about consent, power, and participation in employment relations.

Investigate debates about the minimum wage, sexual harassment, discrimination, labor unions, pensions, privacy, health, and safety as well as the historical developments that still impact those debates. 

Seek answers to new questions facing the world’s workplaces and workforce (for example, is Uber a workplace or technology?), including issues about trade, transnational labor rights, immigration, employee rights, and multinational corporations’ social responsibility. 

Work side-by-side with attorneys through the Low-Wage Worker Externship at the Legal Aid Society to develop interviewing and litigation skills as well as an understanding of the legal and practical issues confronting low-wage workers.

Advocate for the rights of workers on the national and global scale through the Human Rights Clinic and Immigrants’ Rights Clinic.

“Most people don’t have a choice about whether to participate in the market for labor. So making sure that the laws are fit for the conditions of people’s working lives is critically important for ensuring the basic minimum standards of civil society. There can be real vulnerabilities to exploitation given that people need to put bread on the table. So we need to be especially vigilant.”
—Gillian Lester, Columbia Law School Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law and co-editor of Philosophical Foundations of Labour Law

Related Faculty

Dean Gillian Lester

Gillian Lester

  • Dean of the Faculty of Law and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law
Lance Liebman

Lance Liebman

  • William S. Beinecke Professor of Law Emeritus and Dean Emeritus

Related Experiential Learning Opportunities

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