The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Ken Reinker, Partner—Antitrust
Ken Reinker is a partner in Cleary’s Washington, DC, office. His practice covers all aspects of antitrust law, including litigation, government investigations, and merger review, and all industries, including extensive experience in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and health care; high-technology industries; media; and financial institutions.
Ken has been named among the “Top 40 Attorneys in DC Under 40” by Bisnow and to the “Under 40 Hot List” by Benchmark Litigation. He has also been recognized as a “Next Generation Lawyer” by The Legal 500, a “Competition Future Leader” by the Global Competition Review, and a “Rising Star for Antitrust Litigation” by Super Lawyers.
Ken joined the firm in 2010 and was elected partner in 2016. Earlier, Ken clerked for Judge Michael Boudin on the First Circuit and worked as an antitrust economist consulting on litigation matters as executive director of Legal Economics LLC.
He received a J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where he was co-chair of the articles committee on the Harvard Law Review, and a B.S. in economics, magna cum laude, from Duke University.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
My practice involves antitrust litigation, merger review before the DOJ and FTC and foreign regulators, and criminal and civil antitrust investigations. We tend to work on matters that have particularly high stakes and are substantively challenging.
Across all of those areas, essentially what we do is learn as much as possible about the industry and the particular facts of the case; organize, analyze, and synthesize that information into a coherent framework; and then teach our audience, whether a judge, a jury, or a regulator, through a variety of formats: oral advocacy, briefs or white papers, slides, etc.
What types of clients do you represent?
We work across all industries. Most of our clients are major multinationals, but we also represent smaller companies with important antitrust issues. I’ve done a lot of work in pharmaceuticals, financial institutions, and high-tech industries, but I’ve also done work in industries as varied as retail, transportation, chemicals, steel, and more.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
Last year, my biggest matter was representing 21st Century Fox on the U.S. antitrust aspects of the Disney-Fox merger. Different teams at Cleary represented both parties—Fox in the U.S. and Disney in Europe—reflecting the strength of our global practice. It was a great matter all around. Everyone likes movies, TV, and sports, and the industry is evolving rapidly with new entrants and technology. The substantive antitrust analysis focused on interesting issues about bargaining among content producers and content distributors, and the situation was complicated by the U.S. government suing to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. The clients were smart, practical, and nice, which made things so much easier, and we ended up with a great result and fast U.S. clearance.
How did you choose this practice area?
I chose antitrust because it involves the application of complex legal and economic principles to complex factual situations in a way that doesn’t really exist in any other practice area. You learn a lot about a lot of things, and every matter stays interesting because you have to become an expert about new industries. Antitrust matters also tend to be important to the clients (such as transformative mergers or litigations challenging fundamental business practices), so you get a lot of exposure not only to general counsel, but also senior business leadership.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
I wake up early to have more time with my wife and baby boy. Then at work, there is a lot of variety. I spend most of my time thinking about antitrust issues; meeting and talking with clients to learn about their industries, to explain the law, or to plan next steps; and drafting briefs, white papers, and presentations. I’m also often meeting with regulators, taking or defending depositions, etc.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
Antitrust law, of course, as well as any other black-letter law classes where you learn to apply law to complicated situations. You need an economic mindset to be successful, so law and economics. It is also valuable to join the law review to practice writing and research and to clerk to see how legal decisions are made in the real world.
What do you like best about your practice area?
I like the early part of a case best: You learn about a new problem, gather the facts, and figure out the answer. I also like teaching others what we’ve figured out.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm?
We’re the only firm ranked at the top for antitrust work in both the U.S. and Europe. Our antitrust lawyers cover all aspects of antitrust law—mergers, litigation, and investigations—while antitrust lawyers at many other firms are more limited. We have strength at all levels, from senior partners to junior partners to the associates, not just one or two big names. Our advice is practical and reflects business realities. A lot of antitrust lawyers take the easy way out and just say everything is risky, while we analyze the facts and give you our best advice.
What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?
A lot of it depends on the particular lawyer. Cleary has a pretty flexible model where what associates do depends on what they are ready to do and their interests. A strong junior associate could pretty quickly be interviewing businesspeople; drafting briefs, white papers, and presentations; and becoming the go-to person for particular areas of the case.
Given the breadth of antitrust, what must attorneys do to be successful in practice?
You need to have a practical, economic mindset, focused on what makes sense as a functional matter; you need to be flexible and comfortable working across industries and legal theories; you need to absorb facts quickly and have good recall; you need to know the precedents so that you can draw on them; and you need to be able to take complex issues and simplify them.