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

Kerry Jones is an associate in the Litigation Department with a focus on antitrust matters. Her practice includes supporting clients across the spectrum of antitrust and competition law matters, such as strategic counseling to manage antitrust risks, merger clearance advocacy, government investigations, and antitrust litigation. Kerry works with clients around the world on everything from “bet the company” transactions to antitrust compliance trainings.

Bonnie Lau is an antitrust lawyer and the chair of the San Francisco litigation department. A dynamic trial lawyer, she has significant experience defending class actions, multidistrict litigations, and enforcement actions, including recently as lead trial counsel in an antitrust class action jury trial with over a billion dollars of exposure. Bonnie was honored to be named one of the “Top 100 Lawyers in California” and a “Top Antitrust Lawyer” by the Daily Journal in 2022. She also is an outspoken and dedicated advocate for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession.

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Kerry: My practice as an antitrust associate focuses on merger clearance. In the U.S. and most countries around the world, with transactions of a certain size, the government gets an opportunity to review the transaction before it is consummated to determine if it would be anticompetitive.

I help companies navigate that process, from evaluating the risk, to negotiating the merger agreement, to submitting the filing to the government agency, to conducting any advocacy needed with that agency. I also work on other types of antitrust cases, such as government investigations or civil litigation, and I advise clients on antitrust best practices.

Bonnie: MoFo’s antitrust litigators are trial lawyers skilled at resolving complex antitrust cases through dispositive motions but capable of taking any case to trial. We also counsel our clients to develop business strategies that enhance their competitiveness and help resolve merger reviews and criminal and civil investigations. We regularly play a leading role in the world’s largest and most complex antitrust litigation matters.

What types of clients do you represent?

Kerry: I represent companies from all across the economy and around the world, especially Japan. That is part of what makes my job so interesting. From tech startups to established industrial companies, I see it all.

Bonnie: Our team represents clients across a range of industries that face government scrutiny or allegations of anticompetitive conduct, including technology, AI, manufacturing, media, telecommunications, healthcare, and financial services, and we advise many of the most sophisticated companies in the world.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Kerry: There can be a whole range. In my merger clearance work, most of the time, it is simple—you work through a few issues and fill out the paperwork, and in a couple of months, you are done. Sometimes, you end up with something like T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, where the government sues to block the transaction and you are in court arguing over the merits of the transaction. In addition, I am currently working on an investigation in response to inquiries from an Asian antitrust regulator, helping a client respond to requests as a third party in a large antitrust litigation, and working on a large litigation with a small antitrust piece.

Bonnie: We represent companies in cutting-edge antitrust litigation involving claims of price-fixing, wage-fixing, no-poach conduct, output suppression, monopolization, predatory pricing, and unfair competition. We also frequently litigate antitrust counterclaims in patent infringement, trade secret theft, and intellectual property disputes.

How did you choose this practice area?

Kerry: As a summer associate at MoFo, I was impressed by the lawyers I saw preparing witnesses in a merger investigation for their depositions. The lawyers seemed to know just as much about the business as some of the executives, if not more. Getting to work with a company’s executives to do a deep dive into their business looked fun, and it has been. I have learned so much about things like robots, autonomous vehicles, and smartphones from the people in the trenches.

Bonnie: In law school, I competed in a number of moot court competitions and loved the teamwork, performance, and competitive aspects of it. I knew I wanted to be a litigator and become a successful trial lawyer. In practice, I started out as a commercial class action litigator, and gravitated to antitrust as a mid-level associate because of the creativity, tenacity, and business savvy required to tackle complex antitrust challenges.

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

Kerry: I love my practice because every day is different, and I do such a wide variety of tasks. I spend a lot of time researching products to craft arguments about what products do and do not compete with each other. I work closely with clients, explaining the regulatory process to them and helping them navigate it. Some days my job looks more like a transactions associate, as I am revising and advising on contracts. Other days, I do more traditional litigation tasks, like preparing witnesses for depositions, document review, and discovery responses. This is the perfect practice for someone who gets bored easily! There is always something new and interesting.

Bonnie: One thing I love about my practice is how unique and varied each day can be. On a typical day, I will meet with clients to discuss their business challenges or strategize regarding an ongoing case. I will work with my talented team on our case strategy, whether by interviewing employees, preparing for depositions, responding to discovery requests, drafting dispositive motions, or getting ready for trial. I might also negotiate with opposing counsel or argue in court at a motion hearing. Finally, I may end my day by taking a client to dinner or attending a gala in support of a social cause or legal nonprofit.

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

Kerry: Some people would say a strong background in economics is needed for antitrust. While it is certainly a plus, an academic background in economics is not necessary. Find an economic news source that you like, and that is a good start. Then I say learn as much as you can about how the world works. That sounds silly, but you never know what industry your next matter will touch, where all of a sudden that TV show you watched or NPR story you listened to or even the time you spent online shopping will become relevant.

Bonnie: Beyond academic courses, I highly recommend taking a negotiation, trial, or appellate advocacy class to strengthen your communication and written and oral advocacy skills. Beyond developing substantive research and writing skills, I also recommend investing time to cultivate relationships with your classmates, colleagues, and clients. Building a broad, supportive network and being proactive about seeking new opportunities will take you much further as an antitrust lawyer than any single course on the Sherman Act.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Kerry: I like looking back after six months or a year when my matter is over and reflecting on how much I now know about a random industry. It is also fun to see how the knowledge builds on itself and how expertise in one product area becomes relevant to your next matter in a related product area.

Bonnie: The people. I’m fortunate to have amazing partners, teammates, and clients who make it a joy to practice. I respect and admire my partners at MoFo, who are not only world-class trial lawyers and fierce litigators, but also caring, well-rounded people who prioritize firm culture, integrity, balance, and professionalism. I derive a lot of pride and joy from watching my associates as they grow and mature into seasoned, skillful lawyers. And I have many clients who have become close friends, and it is an honor to partner with them to tackle their business and legal challenges together.

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

Kerry: Junior associates are often the ones in the weeds on gathering the information needed for the merger filings or advocacy. This often means a lot of client contact early in their careers. Junior associates are also often the ones doing the initial analysis on the competitive landscape. There is some document review too, but it is always different.

Bonnie: On a typical day, my junior associates might draft a deposition outline, negotiate with opposing counsel, attend a client meeting, or analyze documents to prepare a fact chronology. To build and support my team, I look for ways to provide opportunities for younger attorneys to develop their skill sets, build confidence, and take ownership of key decisions or parts of a case.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

Kerry: AI is going to have a huge impact on antitrust, as with all other areas of the law. How things like pricing algorithms will be regulated is a big question in the field today. New technologies compete with each other in novel ways, and it will take work to explain that competitive landscape to a regulator or a judge.

Bonnie: Antitrust is a rapidly evolving area of the law, and not just for the Swifties. There is heightened interest in antitrust from global enforcers, the civil plaintiffs’ bar, and legislators. Traditional (and some might say outdated) competition laws and enforcement tools are being updated and applied creatively to promote competition for fast-moving industries and even-faster-evolving products, hopefully without stifling innovation and impeding the U.S.’ ability to compete in global markets.

Given the breadth of Antitrust, what must attorneys do to be successful in the practice?

Kerry: Adapt to change. Things change with the priorities of new administrations, new technology, and world events. Every day you are working on something different, learning something different. Being able to take all of that in stride makes you a good antitrust lawyer.

Bonnie: Your currency as a lawyer is based on your reputation and credibility. To stand out, you need to understand your clients’ business and business goals, become a trusted advisor, and provide practical, efficient, candid, and reliable advice.