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Overview

Antitrust attorneys help companies navigate competition issues created by organic growth or acquisition under national and international laws and regulations. Antitrust attorneys straddle the line between litigation and corporate attorneys. They may advise about possible antitrust regulatory issues in an acquisition or other transaction and also represent companies in litigation, especially against the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, or similar foreign government agencies. The stakes in antitrust cases can be very high “bet the company” litigation and involve complicated, sophisticated issues that can turn on minute details. Antitrust lawyers tend to be smart, methodical, and cerebral. Antitrust practitioners work across industries, and each engagement requires the attorneys to understand the products or services at issue, how they are made, how they are sold, how firms compete, and how they collaborate. It is common for antitrust attorneys in the U.S. to spend at least part of their careers working for the Department of Justice or FTC.

Featured Q&A's
Get an insider's view on working in Antitrust from real lawyers in the practice area.
Brian Byrne, Partner—Antitrust
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Cleary Gottlieb’s practice covers all aspects of antitrust law, including advising on M&A transactions (e.g., advocacy to obtain agency clearance), litigation (e.g., price-fixing, monopolization, and merger challenge cases), and criminal and civil government investigations. It is essentially three practice areas rolled into one. Unlike many firms, at Cleary Gottlieb, antitrust lawyers typically work in all three of these areas.  

In addition, my work is often international. Having spent three years practicing in our Brussels office, I regularly advise on cross-border transactions and investigations, including global cartel investigations. These matters typically involve the U.S., the European Commission, the U.K., as well as other jurisdictions such as Brazil, China, Korea, Canada, Japan, Chile, and Mexico.  

What types of clients do you represent?

My practice touches nearly every industry, and I have been privileged to represent some of the world’s leading companies in their respective industries. One of the most interesting parts of my job is learning about each sector, going beyond legal issues to really understand my clients’ business, competition, and business objectives. Based in the California Bay Area, I frequently represent software companies such as Figma, and semiconductor industry companies such as Applied Materials. Other current and recent clients include venture capital (Sequoia Capital), food and beverage (Molson Coors, General Mills, and Sysco), industrial and defense (Raytheon and Johnson Controls), consumer products (Whirlpool), retail (Family Dollar and Lowe’s), energy (Phillips 66), transportation (Korean Air), and chemical and similar industries (Dow Chemical and Air Liquide), among others.  

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

My caseload is a balanced mix of merger, enforcement, and litigation matters. At any point in time, I’m usually working on a couple of matters in each area, so I’ll give one current example of each. I am currently advising Figma, Raytheon, and Korean Air in connection with various large transactions under review by government authorities. In the enforcement area, I recently represented a software company (whose name I have to keep confidential) in a DOJ criminal antitrust grand jury investigation that was shut down without our client being charged.  And recently, I successfully defended Swedish Match, a Swedish multinational, in litigation in the Central District of California. 

How did you choose this practice area?

I started by taking advantage of the opportunity Cleary Gottlieb provides to try several different practice areas. I found antitrust matters to be particularly fascinating and challenging, so over time I focused more and more on antitrust. I didn’t plan to be an antitrust lawyer, but fortunately, I’m at a firm that prizes versatile lawyers and allows young lawyers to explore different practice areas.

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

I interact daily with clients, regulators, co-counsel at other firms, and expert economists. I spend a lot of time in physical or virtual meetings, and also do quite a bit of writing. Many of the clients, colleagues, and co-counsel I speak with are in California, elsewhere in the U.S., or outside of the U.S., and the key regulators are in Washington, DC, Brussels, and London.  So I travel a fair amount, typically at least a couple of times per month, with a number of international trips every year. A typical day or week involves advice and counseling, as well as advocacy and negotiation at the antitrust agencies and/or in litigation.  

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

All of the skills and experiences that are generally useful to corporate lawyers and litigators are equally essential in antitrust, including writing, oral advocacy, and client service.

In addition, an economics background and an enthusiasm for learning about the business world are very helpful for antitrust lawyers. We regularly work with our clients’ business teams, as well as economic consultants and experts. Indeed, economics principles underlie antitrust policy, so understanding economics is critical in the tough cases. Those who have an economics background find the practice area to be a natural fit. That said, many of our associates come to the firm with only a limited background in economics. These associates can thrive with a commitment to getting up to speed through extra training, classes, or reading. 

More broadly, a quantitative or business background, such as in math, finance, or consulting, can be very useful. However, this is not essential, as Cleary Gottlieb offers a 2-week immersion “mini-MBA” training program to all new associates.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Two issues make antitrust practice uniquely challenging.

First, antitrust merger reviews and merger litigations are condensed into a matter of months, while most other investigations and litigations of this complexity and importance last years. Merging parties can’t wait around for years to find out whether their mergers can proceed. So we need to do it all very quickly. The good news is that cases actually end, and you move on to new matters. The challenge is figuring out how to cut to the chase and quickly persuade the agency on the key issues.

Second, the DOJ’s criminal cartel investigations frequently target foreign clients who have little experience with U.S. antitrust law. Thus, antitrust investigations and advice often involve communications (across language and cultural barriers) on high-stakes matters with client representatives who are unfamiliar with the relevant law, policy, and process.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Many law students don’t realize how large of a field antitrust is, and thus, how many career opportunities are available. There is a common misconception that antitrust is one of many niche “support” or “administrative” practices. In Washington, DC, the reality is that there is a very large antitrust bar, and the work includes agency merger reviews, civil litigation, and criminal cartel investigations. At Cleary Gottlieb, antitrust isn’t a support function for the firm’s M&A practice. Rather, it is a “destination” practice that is strategically critical to the firm. It is a vibrant, stand-alone, global practice that often works closely with the M&A team. Companies appreciate the value in providing resources to an antitrust defense, as many of these matters are bet-the-company cases, since the issues often boil down to whether the company is becoming too powerful in the marketplace.    

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

The greatest change in antitrust work since I have been practicing is how international it has become. In addition to the U.S. and Europe, we are regularly involved in antitrust investigations by Latin American, Asian, and other authorities. Moreover, with nearly half of the firm’s lawyers based outside of the U.S., our clients skew strongly in the international direction. Cleary Gottlieb has been consistently recognized as the only firm with a top-tier practice in both the U.S. and Europe, so we have a tremendous roster of non-U.S. clients who turn to us for U.S. and global antitrust projects.

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

A junior lawyer’s job starts with learning all about the client’s business, and the competition it faces. Given the exposure to multiple industries over time, the junior gains invaluable insights on a broad cross-section of the global business world. Armed with the facts and details about a client’s industry, the junior lawyer’s tasks involve factual and legal research, risk assessment advice, negotiation of key provisions in M&A contracts, advocacy to global antitrust agencies, client communications, and all of the steps in litigation and investigations.

Brian is a partner based in the Bay Area offices of Cleary Gottlieb. His practice focuses on the antitrust review of mergers and acquisitions, criminal antitrust investigations and other enforcement matters, and civil antitrust litigation. 

Resident in the firm’s Washington, DC office for most of his career, in the firm’s Brussels office from 2008 to 2011, and in its Bay Area office since 2021, Brian offers clients seamless counsel on cross-border, global antitrust matters. 

Brian has been recognized for his work by Chambers USA, The Legal 500, and Benchmark Litigation. The National Law Journal has named him a “Trailblazer in Antitrust” and BTI Consulting Group Survey of Fortune 1000 General Counsels has named him a “client service all-star.” 

Brian earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan School of Law in 1995 and a B.A., with high distinction, from Brown University in 1992.

Sheila R. Adams James, Partner—Litigation Department, Antitrust & Competition Group
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP

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.

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.

Jamillia Ferris, Partner & U.S. Head—Antitrust, Competition, and Trade
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I lead the U.S. Antitrust, Competition,and Trade practice at Freshfields and primarily focus on representing companies in front of the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of Justice. This includes merger and conduct investigations at both agencies.

What types of clients do you represent?

I am fortunate to represent clients across a range of sectors, but most of my day-to-day work has been for tech and biotech clients. 

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Most of my work centers around M&A transactions that are investigated by the U.S. antitrust agencies.  

I also represent companies that are being investigated by the antitrust agencies. Recent work includes advising:

  • Coupa on its pending $8 billion sale to Thoma Bravo
  • Credit Karma in its sale to Intuit
  • Bungie in its sale to Sony
  • Zynga in its sale to Take Two
  • Lumentum in its acquisitions of NeoPhotonics and Oclaro
  • DeepMap in its sale to Nvidia
  • MaxLinear in its proposed acquisition of Silicon Motion
  • Mandiant in its proposed acquisition by Google 

How did you choose this practice area?

After clerking, I started my legal career at a large international law firm with a wide range of practices, which allowed me to try different areas before settling into antitrust and, at the time, consumer protection and privacy. 

In fact, my early years were spent more on privacy because at the time, that was a new area of practice. However, after being asked to join the Antitrust Division by a partner whom I worked for, my practice became more concentrated on competition issues. 

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

My day is varied between engagement with clients, the antitrust agencies, and colleagues. For example, already today I had a call with my M&A partner to discuss the antitrust issues in a potential merger transaction, talked to the government about the status of their review of a different merger transaction, and worked with others on the antitrust team on a submission to the government.

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

Like most areas of law, antitrust requires strong analytics and writing skills. Of course, if it fits into your law school schedule, taking a few antitrust courses is a good idea, especially to figure out whether it is an area that is of interest to you. 

Another way to explore antitrust as a practice area is to join the very active Antitrust Section of the ABA which allows law students to join for free. 

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

It is a high-stakes practice that can go to the heart of a company’s economic viability, and therefore, requires the highest level of performance.  

What do you like best about your practice area? 

Antitrust offers lawyers the opportunity to touch many other aspects of legal practice including corporate, litigation, and government advocacy.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?  

There are many career paths for people who start out and want to stay in antitrust, including law firms, government opportunities, and, increasingly, in-house positions.  But I have also seen associates easily transition from antitrust to other areas of law either in the government or in-house.

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

Be curious and versatile.

Jamillia is based in Freshfields’ Washington, DC office and represents industry-leading companies before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on merger matters and civil conduct investigations, as well as provides antitrust counsel on a wide range of business practices.

Jamillia served in various leadership positions and has overseen mergers at both the Antitrust Division of the DOJ and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In 2014, she was hired to lead the FCC's review of AT&T's proposed $49 billion acquisition of DIRECTV. In this role, Jamillia directed all aspects of the FCC’s investigation. She was also a member of the steering committee overseeing the FCC's review of Comcast's proposed $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. While at the DOJ, Jamillia served as chief of staff and counsel to the assistant attorney general of the Antitrust Division.

As a leader in her field, Jamillia is consistently recognized for her work by Chambers, Global Competition Review, and Who’s Who Legal, among others. She is regularly asked to present to global audiences on the state of antitrust law; and after having held numerous leadership positions in the American Bar Association, Jamillia currently serves on the Council of the Antitrust Section of the ABA.

In addition to her antitrust practice, Jamillia is on the board of the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, which provides comprehensive legal services to victims of domestic violence, as well as on the Advisory Council of Lemonada Media.

Kerry Jones, Associate • Bonnie Lau, Partner—Litigation
Morrison Foerster

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.

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.

D. Bruce Hoffman, Partner—Antitrust
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Cleary Gottlieb’s antitrust practice handles high-stakes antitrust litigation, major transactions, and closely watched cartel and monopolization investigations. We serve clients in all areas of competition law, including merger notification and related advocacy efforts before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and other global agencies; every type and stage of government antitrust investigation; and a wide range of civil and criminal antitrust litigation. We also handle related FTC issues, such as advertising and marketing practices investigations.

Our antitrust practice is among the most highly acclaimed practices in both the U.S. and Europe. In the 2023 edition of GCR100 by Global Competition Review (GCR), Cleary was ranked #1 in the Global Elite, and we are the only law firm ranked in GCR’s “Elite” category for antitrust in Washington, DC. In addition, we are consistently ranked as the only top-tier firm for antitrust in both the United States and Europe (Chambers Global, 2011-2022).

What types of clients do you represent?

One thing I enjoy about having an antitrust practice is the varied client base. I work with clients in various industries, including among many others technology (Google, Sony), consumer goods and retail (Keurig, Dr. Pepper, Casey’s Convenience Stores), and financial services.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Unlike many other firms, Cleary’s Antitrust group does not assign attorneys to a particular specialty area. Our attorneys can handle transactions, litigation, and investigations across a variety of industries, and my practice is no different. Last year, for example, I worked with Coca-Cola in acquiring the appropriate antitrust approvals to complete their acquisition of a sports drink, while also working with Leroy Seafood Group in antitrust class action litigation.

How did you choose this practice area?

The short story is by accident and an interest in economics. I was essentially a first-generation lawyer (I had a great-uncle who was a lawyer, but I had no idea what he did until after I graduated) and I was not aware that “antitrust law” was an option. As a very junior associate, I found myself working on an antitrust litigation case that piqued my interest. I then sought additional opportunities to work on antitrust cases and became involved with the ABA Antitrust Section. Antitrust was for me by far the most interesting area of law, and I decided to really dig in.

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

There is no typical day, which is another reason why I enjoy the practice so much. There are days where I’m working on a strategy for a merger to see how we can make it work (or how we can help the agencies block someone else’s merger). Another day might find me in court or depositions as part of a litigation matter. Other times, I’m talking with clients about their business issues and how to stay on the right side of the law. Or I might spend time responding to a government antitrust investigation. Each day is something different—merger lawyer, litigator, business counselor, and government investigations lawyer—sometimes all in one day.

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

If you can take an Antitrust class, you should. Microeconomics, game theory, and statistics are all useful but not prerequisites. Civil Procedure and Administrative Law are also especially good if you’re looking to have a global practice. Once in practice, I recommend joining the ABA Antitrust Law Section to continue learning and build a network. I also suggest strongly considering working for the government at some point in your career, whether at the FTC, at the DOJ, or in a state attorney general’s antitrust office.
What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?
An antitrust practice is very intellectually demanding as it’s a highly conceptual area of law. You’re taking complex concepts and making judgment calls on a regular basis. The economics in antitrust are also demanding to learn and keep up with. It’s very challenging and that’s why I enjoy it so much. It’s going to keep you engaged and interested.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Some commentators try to create a narrative that there is a questionable “revolving door” exchange between the government and private law firms, in the way that some people criticize officials leaving government procurement offices and joining contractors selling to their former office. But it’s a false analogy based on unfamiliarity with antitrust law and practice. Unlike some areas of law, such as labor, there’s no plaintiff/defense split in the antitrust bar; antitrust practitioners are just as likely to represent plaintiffs or complainants as defendants or respondents. And attorneys leaving the government provide the most value in private practice, and are most highly sought after, when they were aggressive but principled enforcers. Further, the exchange between the government and the private sector allows the government to tap talent that would otherwise be unavailable and facilitates understanding between the government and the private sector that benefits enforcement. For example, I’m more able to persuade clients to avoid doing things that might violate the antitrust laws because my government service tells clients that I know what I’m talking about.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

We’re unique at Cleary because antitrust is a flagship practice here. At many firms, antitrust is an ancillary or complementary practice to corporate and litigation work. We’re very closely integrated with those practices, of course. But Cleary views antitrust as a hallmark of the firm and a destination practice that does much more than serve the needs of the firm’s other practice groups.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

There are four typical career paths for lawyers seeking an antitrust practice: 1) government, 2) private practice, 3) in-house, and 4) academic. In this area, more than others, you’ll see lawyers spend time in some combination and potentially in all four. Most typically, an attorney will spend three to eight years in private practice before going to the government for a period and then maybe returning to private practice or going in-house, but there’s tremendous variation. Given the heavy academic element of antitrust, you will also see a fair bit of flow back and forth between academia. For example, I’ll be teaching this spring at my alma mater.

Bruce is a partner based in the Washington, DC, office of Cleary Gottlieb. His practice focuses on antitrust enforcement, including merger clearance and conduct investigations, antitrust litigation, counseling, and FTC consumer protection work. Bruce joined the firm as a partner after serving as Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition from August 2017 until December 2019. As Director, he was the head of the FTC’s antitrust enforcement and was responsible for developing Bureau policy, supervising all of the Bureau’s investigations and litigation, and conducting high-level relations with other leading antitrust enforcers, as well as communications with Congress. Bruce previously served at the FTC as Associate and then Deputy Director of the Bureau of Competition from 2001 through 2004 and has had a long career in private practice.

Bruce has been recognized for his antitrust work by Chambers USA, The Legal 500 and Benchmark Litigation. While with the FTC, he received the Award for Distinguished Service. Bruce is on the Board of Trustees for the University of Florida Levin College of Law. 

Bruce earned his J.D., with high honors, from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in 1992 and a B.A., with high distinction, from Pennsylvania State University in 1989.

Jack E. Pace III, Partner • Gina Chiappetta, Associate—Competition
White & Case

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Gina: White & Case’s antitrust practice works on a full range of competition issues in virtually all jurisdictions. The range of conduct that may implicate the antitrust laws is broad. In fact, some government officials seem to believe that antitrust is the law of everything. As a result, our antitrust lawyers represent clients in a variety of matters including cross-border mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, licensing and distribution arrangements, criminal investigations, civil investigations and enforcement actions, private class-action litigation, and routine business strategy decisions.

The practice is not black and white, and antitrust law and enforcement are influenced by a number of factors, including the “school of thought” favored by political administrations and the judges who decide cases. It is critical for attorneys to stay up to date on the ever-changing legal landscape. Moreover, because antitrust statutes are so broad (and, frankly, vague), successfully litigating a case or providing sound advice to clients will often require attorneys to become experts in their clients' industries, unique business strategies, competitors, and the specific facts at issue in a case.

What types of clients do you represent? (Please feel free to list actual clients.)

Jack: White & Case antitrust clients tend to have a few things in common: their predicament is complicated; they see that we live in a global market and want a law firm capable of performing in that market; and, if there’s trouble, they probably want to fight instead of surrender. Those traits cut across industry lines, so I’ve been lucky to represent companies and individuals in the life sciences, medical devices, technology, fintech, private equity, traditional financial services, agriculture, chemicals, insurance, cable, and even potash industries. And currently I’m representing a few clients involved in the startup stages of these industries. Finally, the firm is very aware of the larger significance and obligation of the lawyer in society. As a result, we represent a large number of clients pro bono publico in matters consistent with our values.

What types of cases/deals do you work on? (Please feel free to share actual cases/deals.)

Jack: The Botox antitrust litigation is a representative example. Plaintiffs challenged one of the most successful brands on earth based on what I think was the first “killer acquisition” theory: the plaintiffs argued that Allergan’s attempt to assist an inexperienced, struggling company (the CEO was indicted in Korea) to launch a product actually was an effort to prevent competition from that company. It wasn’t. But to convince a California judge and jury of that fact required a team not only with extensive trial experience, but also with the creativity to take on the orthodoxy that products like Botox had “market power.” So, we were hired to replace the law firm already working on the litigation, and we obtained a great result for our client. The plaintiffs agreed to a settlement for less than the cost of defense, and the Botox franchise has flourished ever since.

How did you choose this practice area?

Gina: I think it’s fair to say that I ended up practicing antitrust law mostly by accident. After college, law school, and a stint as a summer associate at White & Case, I had no idea what sort of law I wanted to practice and was open to most practice areas. Just a few days after joining the firm, I was asked to join a trial team defending the merger of two healthcare companies against a lawsuit brought by the DOJ. I worked closely with many antitrust partners and associates for months. When the trial was over, some of those same partners and associates asked me to work on another antitrust matter. I enjoyed working with the team and found, to my sincere surprise, that antitrust is interesting—so I joined the group.

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

Jack: The firm highly encourages our lawyers to take on leadership responsibilities wherever it would help the firm. I have one of those roles now, serving as head of our Competition Section for the Americas. So, a typical day involves balancing that role with my client service. For example, in the morning I might have a meeting to help a partner develop a budget for a new matter, followed by a meeting with a People Advisory Manager to discuss associate performance. In the afternoon, I might have a videoconference with a partner in our DC office and an associate in our NY office to discuss the strategy for an upcoming deposition, followed by a call with a client to discuss the antitrust risks of a business decision the company is considering. I’m lucky that, most days, my leadership work complements my client work. So, when your management asks you to take on what some call an “administrative” task, say “Yes!”

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

Gina: In addition to taking the obvious “Antitrust Law” class, students interested in antitrust will likely benefit from courses that provide background on mergers and acquisitions (and specifically the economic motivations behind these transactions); introduce them to the class certification process; cover the litigation of damages, injunctive relief, and other remedies; and discuss the procedural and substantive issues underlying complex litigation (e.g., litigation involving multiple parties, large-scale discovery, standing, multidistrict litigations, management of parallel private and public enforcement actions, and the adjudication of state claims in federal court or vice versa).


Outside of the law school context, developing an understanding of antitrust economics and staying apprised of guidance and other policy statements made by the DOJ and FTC will be very valuable to anyone looking to practice antitrust law.


What do you like best about your practice area?

Jack: The best part of antitrust is that it’s challenging. A good example comes from when I was an associate working on the genetically modified seeds antitrust litigation. At that time in the early 2000s, the case law heavily favored class certification in antitrust. Class actions are an important part of litigation, but courts had begun presuming class certification was appropriate and ignoring the requirements of the Federal Rules. We represented Syngenta, then the biggest agribusiness in the world and one of several defendants accused of conspiring to fix the prices of GM seeds. We needed to devise a creative strategy to beat the odds, so we dug into the facts and found evidence of how farmers placed different values on the unique features of GM seeds. So, whether class members were injured by the defendants’ pricing required investigating each class member—defeating the purpose of a class action. The court denied class certification, the court of appeals affirmed, and we created a precedent still cited today. That experience of solving a difficult problem and getting a great result for our client helped confirm that I wanted to be an antitrust lawyer.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Gina: I think one of the biggest misconceptions about antitrust law is that it's a monotonous or narrow practice. In reality, antitrust statutes are incredibly broad and have been interpreted and developed more by judges than by lawmakers. This means that there is an enormous range of conduct in nearly every industry that a plaintiff or enforcer can argue implicates antitrust laws, and the cases vary considerably. It also means that litigating antitrust claims often requires an understanding of other areas of law (e.g., intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, torts).

More broadly, antitrust cases are a master class in complex, large-scale litigation. The procedural complexities can often be as challenging and hard fought as the substance of a case, and provide lawyers with unique experience and skills that can be applied to most other practice areas.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Jack: Aside from simply being bigger than nearly every antitrust practice in the world, we seem to have a few unique features. While most antitrust cases settle, our group has averaged more than one antitrust trial per year for more than a decade. Trials are some of the best and most difficult experiences a litigator can have. And sometimes I wonder if our group has more than its share of frustrated artists because we often find ourselves pursuing arguments no one has made before. As far as I know, we’re the only antitrust group to have a list of “firsts” on its website. (It’s now a two-page, single-spaced, two-column sight to behold on whitecase.com.)

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

Gina: As with any practice area, the day-to-day tasks performed by junior associates will depend heavily on their clients’ needs and the phase of the litigation they are working on. When advising clients on antitrust issues, junior lawyers will often research a client’s industry or find case law that applies to the specific scenario a client presents.

Junior associates working on a litigation may help to draft pleadings or perform research to support motion-to-dismiss briefings early in a case. During discovery, junior associates will likely assist with the preparation of and responses to discovery requests, document review and fact development, preparation for depositions, and research to support discovery motion practice. As antitrust cases often implicate complex regulatory, economic, and class certification issues, junior associates are also routinely relied upon to identify evidence to support expert opinions. In later phases of a case, junior attorneys will leverage their familiarity with the record to support summary judgment briefings and other pre-trial motions, and contribute to preparation of pre-trial materials like exhibit lists.

 

Jack Pace is a partner in White & Case’s New York office and head of the firm’s Competition Section for the Americas. He represents clients in various industries in complex litigation and investigations, most of which arise under the antitrust or unfair competition laws. He also has a busy pro bono practice focusing on healthcare, education, and criminal appeals. He obtained both his law degree and undergraduate degree (major in Political Science, minor in Classical Civilizations) from Fordham University.

Gina Chiappetta is an associate in White & Case's New York office and a member of the firm's Global Antitrust/Competition Group. Her practice focuses on counseling clients in various industries and litigating high-risk class-action matters involving antitrust and intellectual property. Gina also maintains an active pro bono practice focused on seeking post-conviction relief for wrongfully convicted individuals and individuals who were convicted in violation of their constitutional rights. 

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