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

Katrina Robson, Partner—Antitrust

Katrina Robson represents clients in complex, high-profile antitrust and competition litigation against both government agencies and private parties. Her work has made material differences in the business of some of the country’s most recognized companies. Katrina has extensive experience briefing and litigating disputes, having worked on appellate briefs, argued before the Ninth Circuit, and participated in multiple trials and evidentiary hearings. She has achieved precedential decisions in antitrust litigation, including obtaining summary judgment on a motion for reconsideration for gaming technology company IGT, subsequently affirmed by the Federal Circuit. A thought leader in her field, Katrina writes and speaks regularly on agency litigation and consumer protection developments and serves as Vice-Chair of the Trial Practice Committee in the ABA Antitrust Section. Global Competition Review profiled Katrina as one of 150 successful women in antitrust and named her one of their litigators of the week in 2016 for obtaining a jury verdict for her client in a rule-of-reason antitrust suit.

Please provide an overview of what, substantively, your practice area entails.

My practice runs the gamut from regulatory investigations to private and government agency litigation. I work on merger clearance, conduct issues, price-fixing litigation, and consumer protection. Typically the work involves complex, cutting-edge antitrust issues, which requires a thorough knowledge of the facts and law and some outside-the-box thinking. I am fortunate to be part of a top-notch team at O’Melveny that is committed to solving clients’ problems creatively and efficiently.

What types of clients do you represent?

Antitrust law is all about protecting competition, which means that it affects just about every company competing for business in the United States. My clients come from a wide range of industries and include major airlines, health care corporations, and food companies. I represented US Airways in the US Airways-American Airlines $17 billion merger and in its successful antitrust suit against Sabre, and I now represent American Airlines in price-fixing litigation. I also represented Sysco in the FTC’s suit seeking to preliminarily enjoin Sysco’s merger with U.S. Foods and was one of the team retained by Halliburton to defend its acquisition of Baker Hughes in litigation.

What types of deals and/or cases do you work on?

In addition to merger litigation work (some good examples of which I mentioned above), I counsel clients on obtaining clearance of proposed mergers. I represented General Mills in its acquisition of organics icon Annie’s and Ardent Health System in its sale of Lovelace Health Plan to Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico.

How did you decide to practice in your area?

I began my professional life as a general business litigator and found that I really enjoyed diving into new industries and tackling novel legal issues. My first antitrust case— actually an intellectual property case with an antitrust counterclaim—was in the gaming industry and involved some interesting market definition issues that were ultimately reviewed by the Federal Circuit. After spending months untangling the market dynamics in a complex industry and figuring out how to use those dynamics to advocate for a particular market definition, I was hooked. I couldn’t imagine another practice area that could be as interesting, challenging, and rewarding.

What is a typical day or week like in your practice area?

It all depends on my current caseload. I just came out of an eight-week jury trial in a private antitrust case, so the last four months have been around-the-clock work. I’ve been preparing witnesses, putting together cross-examination outlines, drafting briefs, working on evidentiary arguments and summations, and crafting strategies. My work on merger litigation is similar, although that moves even more quickly. Defendants have only a few months—sometimes only weeks—after the filing of the complaint to prepare for the injunction hearing, which is essentially a mini-trial that determines the fate of the merger. In that brief time, the team has to respond to the complaint, complete offensive and defensive discovery, and do the equivalent of trial preparation to defense what is usually a high stakes merger for the company.

What is the best thing about your practice area?

Hands down—the people that I work with. My clients typically face difficult issues that have significant implications for their businesses. All too often those issues do not have clear answers. It has been a real privilege to work with smart, hard- working general counsel to find creative solutions and develop long-term strategies that safeguard their companies’ ability to compete aggressively and fairly for the benefit of consumers. It’s great to work in a field with people who inspire me to be the best that I can be.

What is the most challenging aspect of your practice area?

The time away from my family. My last trial required me to be in New York for eight weeks while my children were in school in Washington, DC. I spent about four days with them out of two months. They were real troopers: they worked hard in school, helped out more at home, and sent me lots of encouraging letters (and pictures).

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

Hone your ability to synthesize information. You have to be able to dig into and understand the dynamics of an industry.

There is often no ready-to-hand guidebook so you have to craft your own based on client interviews, information from industry publications and internal documents, and consultations with experts.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area? What do you wish you had known before joining your practice area?

Economics is important in antitrust practice, but it is not all about the economics. Again, that coherent narrative—one that reflects and explains what the economic expert is analyzing—is just as important.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

O’Melveny’s antitrust practice group has so many talented attorneys, all talented in very different ways. That diversity makes our group stronger and gives our younger attorneys more opportunities to develop their skills.

What activities do you enjoy when you are not in the office, and how do you make time for them?

I enjoy just about anything that I can do with my children. My seven-year-old son and I rock climb together (he’s absolutely fearless!) and my four-year-old daughter and I hike in the woods (she collects things—rocks, acorns, sticks, anything that is new and interesting). They are inspiring!

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