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The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.

Sheila represents clients in a variety of civil litigations and government investigations, and her practice focuses on antitrust investigations and litigation and the antitrust aspects of mergers and acquisitions. Her clients have included firms in the media and entertainment, technology, pharmaceutical, financial services, and manufacturing industries, as well as individual corporate directors.

In 2019, Sheila received a National Bar Association “40 Under 40 Nation’s Best Advocates” award, as well as one of the association’s five individual “40 Under 40” awards for Excellence in Leadership. She is Co-Chair of the ABA Antitrust Law Section’s Spring Meeting and a member of the Board of Directors of the Columbia Law School Association.

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

As a member of Davis Polk’s Antitrust & Competition practice, I work on a wide range of matters, including litigations brought by both private parties and governmental agencies, and investigations by U.S. federal and state enforcement agencies as well as international enforcement bodies. These matters typically involve allegations that our clients have been engaged in some type of conduct that lessens competition in the markets in which they operate. I also regularly advise companies and a trade association on how to align their internal processes and practices to comply with antitrust laws.  

I also spend significant time staying abreast of new enforcement actions by agencies and new policies by legislative bodies in the area of antitrust and competition. There has been significant focus on increasing antitrust enforcement in recent years, which has required antitrust lawyers to stay updated on these developments to best advise our clients on how to conduct business in this environment. 

What types of clients do you represent?

My clients have included firms in the media and entertainment, technology, pharmaceutical, financial services, food and beverage, and manufacturing industries, as well as individual corporate directors.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I have worked on various interesting antitrust investigations and litigations throughout my time at Davis Polk. For example, I have represented: 

  • a major technology company in parallel antitrust investigations by the FTC, DOJ, and a coalition of state attorneys general. 
  • a manufacturer in one of the world’s largest antitrust class action matters, involving allegations of price-fixing in the global market for LCD panels in actions brought by hardware manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and state attorneys general. 
  • financial institutions in several lawsuits brought by putative class plaintiffs alleging conspiracies to manipulate benchmark rates and financial products. 
  • a multinational media company in various litigations alleging monopolization and related claims.

How did you choose this practice area?

I find antitrust cases to be dynamic and intellectually rigorous. We constantly need to keep abreast of the law and enforcement priorities of the various governmental agencies that may impact our clients’ businesses. 

At Davis Polk, the antitrust group is also an intimate one where we know one another well and work collaboratively across our offices in the U.S., London, and now Brussels, which we opened last year and are very excited about. 

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

I do not have a typical day, which is part of what I enjoy about my practice. I regularly have calls with clients to discuss strategy for a litigation or investigation. I participate in calls with opposing counsel or the government to negotiate over materials that our client needs to provide for a litigation or investigation and, in the case of a private litigant as the opposing party, what information the opposing party must provide as well. I also may interview a witness for a government investigation or conduct a witness preparation session for an upcoming deposition. 

Besides my day-to-day client work, I also regularly engage in business development activities, including client dinners or presentations. I also regularly meet with more junior lawyers about their work, practice, and career goals, which is one of my favorite parts of being a partner.  

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

I would recommend being a sponge and developing a broad skill set, including legal research and writing, legal analysis, and oral presentation. These skills will be useful irrespective of the type of antitrust lawyer you want to become. 

In addition, developing a strong business sense, including by understanding a client’s business and the markets in which the client operates, is critical to the success of an antitrust lawyer. 

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

One common misconception is that you need a deep economics background to be an antitrust lawyer.  While economics plays an important role in our day-to-day work and some introductory background is helpful, it is not necessary to be an economics guru at the outset of your career as long as you are willing to put in the time to learn the key concepts early on in your practice.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

The Antitrust & Competition practice at Davis Polk entrusts our junior lawyers with a significant amount of responsibility early in their careers. For example, they join client calls to discuss strategy for litigations or investigations, and they will interface directly with the client to obtain materials from the business that are important to the litigation or investigation. 

They also conduct legal research and analyses that help shape our defense strategy. They assist with all aspects of client witness interviews or depositions. And they participate in meetings with, and presentations to, enforcement agencies. Junior lawyers also play a central role in keeping one another and our clients updated on recent developments in the antitrust space.