The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Drawing on more than 25 years of experience at Jones Day and the Department of Justice, Julie McEvoy is a trusted advisor in antitrust and litigation matters involving private litigants as well as government agencies.
In civil litigation, Julie has notched an impressive list of pretrial victories (including the dismissal of a conspiracy complaint involving bitcoin) and courthouse wins (including a defense verdict for a pharmaceutical company accused of abusing FDA processes to suppress competition). She is currently defending agricultural clients against price- and wage-fixing claims, and pharmaceutical clients against consumer protection claims.
Julie has extensive experience in criminal antitrust matters, too. After criminal investigations of the vitamins industry, Julie acted as national coordinating counsel in hundreds of cases, and played similar roles in automobile and paper industry cases.
Julie also represents clients in merger matters. She handed the FTC a rare trial court loss in a hospital merger case, and is currently defending an agency challenge to the merger of two police body-worn camera manufacturers.
During the Obama Administration, Julie served as Deputy Associate Attorney General. She oversaw the Antitrust Division and participated in formulating policies and strategies for investigating, litigating, and resolving civil and criminal antitrust cases.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
The Antitrust & Competition Law practice encompasses a range of investigation, litigation, and transactional matters. We regularly interact with government regulators in conducting investigations and merger reviews, and from time to time we litigate against them, too. We also interact with the private plaintiffs’ bar, which seems to find increasingly novel theories to assert against clients in high-profile industries. In each of these matters we draw on our knowledge of the law, the economics underlying the industry, and the story behind the facts to explain to regulators and factfinders why a particular type of conduct or transaction will benefit—rather than harm—competition.
What types of clients do you represent?
I have represented a wide range of clients in the agricultural, commodity, pharmaceutical, and technology industries. I am currently representing Axon (a police body-worn camera manufacturer), Cargill (a turkey processing company), National Beef (a meatpacking company), and Sanofi (a pharmaceutical company) in major antitrust and consumer protection matters.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
At any given time, I have a mix of government investigations and private litigation on my plate. The most complex cases, such as those involving the intersection of antitrust, intellectual property, and regulatory law, are often the most fun. Though these cases are complicated, they also present three different ways to view an issue—and therefore three different ways to win.
How did you choose this practice area?
I often refer to myself as the accidental antitrust lawyer. I had the great fortune of working for a client in a cartel case more than 20 years ago. She kept coming back to me with increasingly complex matters. I still work with her today, and I credit her with my success as an antitrust lawyer.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
After practicing in the field for more than 20 years, my workdays tend to include equal doses of counseling and litigation. Clients will call to seek guidance about best practices for current business issues, and to talk about how best to defend claims concerning past conduct. I spend the rest of my days executing litigation strategies: managing teams, directing discovery, formulating legal arguments, working with experts, and appearing in court or before regulatory agencies.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
Beyond the basics (such as taking an antitrust class or two in law school), I would recommend taking an improvisation class. Seriously. Learning how to tell a story and being able to think on your feet—quickly—are essential skills for any lawyer. The most effective advocates have mastered both of these skills, and antitrust lawyers must call on them to simplify and explain complex economic concepts to regulators and factfinders alike.
What do you like best about your practice area?
Every matter presents an opportunity to learn about a new industry, and the cases we handle often involve cutting-edge technologies (like police body-worn cameras) and major issues of the day (such as pharmaceutical pricing). After a quarter century of practice, I’m full of trivia contest knowledge about a host of businesses and industries.
What misconceptions exist about your practice area?
Many lawyers shy away from antitrust law on the assumption that they must have PhD-level knowledge of economic theory in order to succeed in the field. Not so. In my experience, the story behind an antitrust case is just as important as the economics behind it—and success in a matter will depend on our ability to explain both to a layperson.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm?
Jones Day has an enviable roster of former government lawyers from enforcement agencies on every continent. As a result, clients call on the firm to handle their largest multi-jurisdictional matters, and we benefit by learning from our colleagues around the world.
What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?
The most “typical” career path for an antitrust lawyer is to spend a few years at the firm before spending a few years with one of the government enforcement agencies. This combination of experiences allows the attorney to understand how both sides analyze business conduct and transactions.