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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.
Gary A. Bornstein, Partner
Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Like most of us at Cravath, my practice is to tackle our clients’ most important problems. For me, that tends to be critical antitrust cases and high-stakes M&A litigation. These cases usually require working closely with a client’s senior management to navigate through strategic challenges as well as legal ones. That means being both a litigator and an advisor. In the courtroom, the job as a litigator is to take a dispute that is complex and turn it into a simple narrative with only one possible answer. Outside the courtroom, the job as an advisor is to understand all the complexity and help the client chart a course through it. At Cravath, our Antitrust practice is different from a lot of other firms because our antitrust lawyers are not just antitrust lawyers. Most of us also have extensive experience in other areas of legal practice and typically have active practices in those other areas. That gives us a unique breadth and depth of expertise to draw from in serving our clients.

What types of clients do you represent?

I represent clients across a wide range of industries, but what they tend to have in common is they turn to Cravath to solve their most complicated issues—and they often have longstanding relationships with the firm. One example of this is Qualcomm. I did my first matter for Qualcomm over 12 years ago and recently represented them in simultaneous fights against Apple and the Federal Trade Commission. The Apple case settled, with a big payment to Qualcomm right after opening statements to the jury, and the FTC case ended with a complete victory for Qualcomm in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The court rejected every one of the FTC’s challenges to Qualcomm’s patent licensing and modem chip sale practices.

To spotlight an ongoing matter, I am part of the Cravath team representing Fortnite creator Epic Games in two separate antitrust actions against Apple and Google. Epic alleges that the companies are engaged in anticompetitive behavior in the distribution of apps on smartphones and in the processing of consumers’ in-app purchases. I am also currently handling a variety of M&A-related matters, including a case for Johnson & Johnson relating to robotic surgery and a case arising from the merger of Viacom and CBS.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I work on antitrust matters as well as complex transaction-related disputes, such as hostile takeovers, M&A deals gone wrong, and corporate governance and fiduciary duty claims. On the antitrust side, my recent cases have related to fundamental challenges to key aspects of a company’s business model. That was the issue in Qualcomm, as well as an antitrust case I did for American Express several years ago. That is also the focus of the Epic Games cases against Apple and Google, except we represent the plaintiff bringing the challenge. On the M&A side, the cases run the gamut. I tried an appraisal case in North Carolina last year, and I regularly work on a variety of Delaware law stockholder challenges to transactions as well as disputes between transacting parties. Part of the M&A-related work is also giving advice to management and boards before transactions happen.

How did you choose this practice area?

Through most of college, I gave very little thought to being a lawyer. I did a lot of theater and actually turned down a job at a New York City repertory company to go to law school. But once I was at law school, I knew that I would be a litigator. The public-facing, on-your-feet aspects of the job were a natural fit.

I also love to write. Transactional lawyers use language as a tool, to build contracts and define the parties’ rights and obligations. That didn’t interest me. Litigators use language like real people—to communicate with another person. I recognize that litigation filings are not great works of literature, but they should still be compelling to read and, at their best, tell a persuasive story. That’s what I wanted to do.

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

A typical day starts with a list of things I plan to get done that end up being pushed in favor of completely different things!

Although the pandemic has made teamwork more challenging, most of what I do is collaborative, working with the associates on the team—putting together a brief, preparing for argument or examination, or just thinking through strategy. No one can do this job alone.

I also have a standing dinner date with my family that I rarely miss unless I’m traveling.

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

There are certain building blocks I would recommend to all students, like Contracts, Civil Procedure, and Corporations—which are essential to most every litigation practice. But my real advice here is to find the opportunity to write as often as you can, and to speak publicly as often as you can. These experiences are crucial, and it almost does not matter what the subject is.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

One misconception is to view antitrust as all about economics or all about the expert witnesses. I think of antitrust as just like the rest of litigation in that you have to identify the key facts and arguments that will cut through the complications. You need to master the markets and the economics, but then you have to present a comprehensible story to a judge or jury. The complexity of the subject matter makes the litigator’s job of telling the story all the more important.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

Summer associates at Cravath participate in the same work that a first-year associate would, from drafting briefs to being involved in discovery and prepping for depositions, argument, or trial. Summers are treated no differently than our other younger lawyers and come away from their experience with relevant litigation experience. We generally staff cases more leanly than a lot of other firms do, and we do that because each member of the team really becomes a critical part of some aspect of the case.

There is no substitute for that kind of hands-on training for young lawyers who are looking for significant responsibilities early in their careers.

In what ways has the coronavirus pandemic affected your practice? How have you adjusted to lawyering in the wake of COVID-19?

The biggest change is no travel. So much of what we do required going somewhere to be with people—clients, witnesses, judges, and so forth. I have taken on new clients since the pandemic started, and it has been very strange not to have been able to meet them in person or share a meal. I have been in court many times now from my home office, even though my appearances were “in” California and Delaware. That requires adapting how you argue and how you interact with the court. Perhaps most important, I haven’t seen anyone from my team in person since March, and that requires putting even more effort into mentoring, giving feedback, and staying in contact in other ways.

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

Success requires being willing to learn an industry completely and thinking about it like a businessperson: how it works, what the competitive dynamics are, and how the relevant markets have changed over time. Each matter I have worked on has required me to master a new corner of the economy.

Antitrust cases are not like litigating a single contract dispute or the circumstances of a particular transaction. You are litigating the structure of an industry and a set of practices in which a company engages. There is a much broader range of factual background, time span, and areas of expertise. These cases require you to do more than archeology about what happened at a specific point in time; they require you to master an ongoing business. It’s like jumping on a horse while it’s already in full gallop.

Gary A. Bornstein, Partner—Litigation

Gary A. Bornstein is a partner in Cravath’s Litigation department, where he handles a wide range of high‑stakes commercial disputes, with particular focus on antitrust, M&A, and securities litigation. He has represented buyers, sellers, and lenders in contested M&A transactions, as well as corporations and directors in disputes with activist investors and other stockholders. He also regularly represents clients in antitrust litigation and investigations.

Gary was born in Merrick, New York. He received a B.A. in Architecture from Yale University in 1994 and a J.D. from Harvard in 1997, where he was a notes editor of the Harvard Law Review and a winner of the Ames Moot Court Competition. After graduation, he served as a law clerk to Hon. Amalya L. Kearse of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Gary joined Cravath in 1998 and was elected a partner in 2004.

Belinda Lee, Partner and Vice Chair of Global Antitrust & Competition Practice • Aaron Chiu, Associate—Antitrust & Competition Practice
Latham & Watkins

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Belinda: I am an antitrust litigator and focus on class actions and cross-border antitrust disputes. 

Aaron: I am an antitrust litigator, and I represent clients
facing government antitrust investigations and enterprise-threatening antitrust challenges to their business practices.

What types of clients do you represent?

Belinda: My clients come from a full spectrum of industries—from high-tech electronics companies and online platforms to more traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and automobile manufacturers. A few specific names I have advised include Toshiba Corporation, BMW AG, and StarKist Co.

Aaron: I have advised various kinds of public and private companies. To give you a flavor, I have advised DoorDash; Ferrellgas, a brick-and-mortar propane tank distributor; Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), the international federation for Olympic and world swimming; and the U.S. Soccer Federation.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Belinda: My cases generally involve defending a multinational corporation (or their executives) in government investigations and any follow-on civil litigation. I have represented Toshiba Corporation in the many different Electronic Components antitrust investigations and civil cases, StarKist Co. in the Packaged Seafood matters, and BMW AG in the German Automobile Manufacturer matter. I have descriptions of quite a few more cases I have worked on in my bio on Latham’s website.

How did you choose this practice area?

Belinda: I didn’t choose antitrust so much as it chose me. When I was a mid-level associate, I worked in several different areas (e.g., soft IP, toxic torts, insurance litigation), and none of them appealed to me. I met and got to know the then-chair of our Antitrust practice when we served together on Latham’s Associates Committee. He recruited me to the Antitrust group, and the rest was history.

Aaron: As a young associate, I knew I wanted to do litigation. I did some antitrust work as a summer associate at another firm. Then I ended up at Latham in San Francisco, which is a hotbed for antitrust litigation. Latham’s Antitrust group started here, and by the time I arrived, it was already one of the top antitrust practices globally, handling lots of interesting cases. I also gravitated towards the people in the group because they are a great collection of individuals. Landing in this practice was, therefore, a combination of interest in the subject matter and bonds formed with a group of people that I enjoy working with every day.

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

Belinda: I don’t know if there is such a thing as a “typical day” in the wake of COVID-19! Pre-pandemic, my days usually involved a lot of traveling to visit clients, taking or defending depositions, and making court appearances. In an average year, I would travel to a half dozen key global cities. Since the pandemic started, it’s virtually impossible to travel. We’re still working with clients outside the U.S., but meeting by videoconference.

Aaron: There is no typical day for me, which is what I enjoy about the work. Each day is largely determined by where in the litigation lifecycle my matters currently are. Some days it’s a lot of brief writing, what I call the “hard brain work”—thinking about arguments, the law, and case strategy. Other days involve case management—meetings and conference calls, team and project management, and communication with clients. Other days are going to battle—handling court hearings, taking and defending depositions, and going to trial. No two days are the same.

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

Belinda: Hone your writing skills—your legal brief is the first thing that a court will consider on any given issue, so your written advocacy skills need to be strong. Get comfortable with public speaking—as a litigator, you need to be able to stand up and persuade people that you are right and opposing counsel is wrong. And, for antitrust specifically, an understanding of economics is always helpful.  

Aaron: Take a class in antitrust law. Antitrust is interesting because there are only a handful of statutes upon which the body of law is built. Understanding how these statutes are applied and the substantive antitrust common law around them will provide you with a good framework. Also, as Belinda suggests, pursue coursework or experience that allows you to gain considerable writing practice. The premier antitrust litigators write about very complex issues in a simple, comprehensible way and are masters at synthesizing complex business practices and concepts into intuitive bite-sized chunks for judges and juries.

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

Belinda: The time zones! Working with multinational clients on cross-border disputes means there is always someone awake and hosting conference calls at odd hours of the night. But in all seriousness, the cross-time zone global nature of my practice is what makes it so interesting. I really appreciate the opportunity to work with lawyers and business people in different countries and learn their different approaches to antitrust and competition law.

Aaron: I love the challenge of understanding concepts that are very complex and simplifying them for your audience—whether that is a judge or a jury. It’s about learning your client’s business and then telling their story. That’s the fun part. When you are on the defense, the plaintiff often spins a seemingly compelling narrative. We’re tasked with defending our client’s business practices by pulling focus to tell the complete story and provide greater perspective. This often reveals that a certain scrutinized practice is actually pro-competitive or the result of innovation. Learning about the various industries that our clients are involved in is a vital process to building an effective defense. Frequently, the business practices being challenged are not about trying to fix prices or to exclude a competitor; instead, they are about a desire to innovate, to enhance the customer experience, and to provide better service and quality.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Belinda: People often think that you have to have a degree in economics and studied antitrust law in law school. Those are extremely helpful, but they are not prerequisites to becoming an antitrust lawyer. If you are willing to put in the work to learn on the job, you will do just fine without those.

Aaron: I believe it’s much more accessible than some people think. Antitrust is something that you can learn by doing. Latham does a great job of providing such opportunities. There are so many entry points for lawyers to learn by doing on our antitrust cases and then to become experts.

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

Belinda: Antitrust enforcement by government regulators and private plaintiffs—in the U.S. and around the world—will only continue to increase. In the U.S., antitrust reform has been a hot topic in Congress with no signs of cooling. This will mean more government investigations, more antitrust lawsuits, and increased scrutiny of merging companies.

Aaron: We are seeing renewed vigor in antitrust enforcement, both by government enforcers and also through private litigation. The technology space will continue to face increased scrutiny. We’ll also see questions about whether the traditional tools of antitrust should be used to police the practices of technology companies, many of which may have originated as one kind of technology company (i.e., social media, online search, online delivery), but with the aggregation of users and data have expanded into many other related services and products. I think there are credible voices that antitrust is perhaps not the right tool to address the new and evolving issues in the technology space. Conversely, the concerns underlying the call for renewed antitrust scrutiny in this area are real, as technology companies and platforms have an immense amount of information and influence over many people.

Another area of evolution is the increasingly interconnected nature of antitrust enforcement globally. Now, events in one jurisdiction tend to exhibit direct impacts on antitrust issues that arise in other jurisdictions. For example, the European Commission (EC) has become a leading enforcer in advancing novel antitrust cases, but the impacts of those enforcement actions are no longer limited to Europe. Numerous U.S. lawsuits are premised on antitrust theories advanced by the EC or cases in Europe. Therefore, antitrust enforcement and defense is becoming more interconnected globally. Clients need to continue to become more sophisticated about antitrust compliance globally, as their decisions in one jurisdiction will undoubtedly have effects for their business in another jurisdiction.

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

Belinda: I don’t think there is a “typical” career path in the antitrust world. Some lawyers (myself included) have worked at the same law firm for their entire careers. Others have started at firms and then left to go work at the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission. Still others have left to work on antitrust and competition issues while in-house at a client. 

Aaron: When people think about antitrust, they think about career paths in private practice or government. Several Latham colleagues have gone to or come from the Antitrust Division at the U.S. Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission. But consistent with the global nature of antitrust, we’re seeing a lot more in-house antitrust counsel positions. Although many litigators assume there are more in-house positions for corporate lawyers, companies are finding increased utility in having in-house litigation counsel positions, including antitrust litigators.

Belinda Lee, Partner and Vice Chair of Global Antitrust & Competition Practice; Aaron Chiu, Associate—Antitrust & Competition Practice

Belinda Lee, a partner in the Bay Area office of Latham & Watkins, is global vice chair of Latham’s Antitrust & Competition practice. She represents global companies in high-stakes litigation and investigations, with particular experience defending private damages actions and navigating clients through international jurisdictions. She represents global companies in antitrust and complex litigation matters pending in courts throughout the United States and before government regulators in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Ms. Lee has extensive experience defending and advising companies in the technology, consumer products, transportation, and manufacturing industries. She has represented these companies in consumer class actions, price-fixing, monopolization, unfair competition, and licensing disputes. She has defeated class certification several times and has regularly guided clients through criminal investigations that close without enforcement action.

Aaron Chiu, a litigation associate in the Bay Area office of Latham & Watkins, represents public and private companies in complex antitrust disputes and government enforcement actions across a range of industries, including technology, sports and entertainment, advertising, transportation, and retail/consumer products. Mr. Chiu has substantial experience representing clients through trial and appeal as well as in international arbitration. He has directed case strategy and led the briefing of numerous appellate briefs and dispositive motions.

Wendy Huang Waszmer, Partner
Wilson Sonsini

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I often describe my practice as having two majors, which overlap: antitrust and litigation. On the antitrust side, I represent companies and individual employees who are under federal investigation; sometimes, those investigations could lead to criminal charges or civil litigation by the government filed in federal court. I am a defense counsel for clients in those scenarios, and that often means defending a client in multiple matters involving the same facts and claims.  Even when companies are not facing an investigation, I provide counseling and legal advice to clients when they need to assess their business practices as they innovate, grow, and become more visible.

What types of clients do you represent?

At Wilson Sonsini, we work with companies making exciting and groundbreaking moves in high-tech and innovation markets. The best part is that our clients are at all stages of the corporate life cycle, from global companies—like Google, Qualcomm, Netflix, and Symantec—to individual founders of startups that are the next-generation trailblazers (and every stage in between).

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I will share two recent examples of the kinds of matters I worked on in the past year. First, I am working with a team of antitrust, data privacy, and investigations lawyers to defend a tech company in global regulatory investigations and class action litigation that raise fundamental questions about the way users interact with news, social media, and online platforms.  The company has now been sued by the Department of Justice and State Attorneys General. A second example is that I represent several executives in a U.S. government investigation into alleged fraud and criminal cartel violations. My objective in these matters is to understand clearly what the clients’ exposure is and to advocate on their behalf for successful resolution of the investigations without charges. If there are charges brought against them, we will litigate on our clients’ behalf in federal court.

How did you choose this practice area?

My path to being an antitrust and litigation partner was a bit of a zigzag—not linear. My practice resulted from years of exploring and finding a community of best-of-the-best lawyers I want to be around, learn from, and try cases with when we have the chance! I chose the areas I practice in primarily by gravitating towards where the most talented people were, who are also great team players, and the cases that seem most challenging.

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

What is amazing and challenging with my practice is that it varies so much day to day. We have been very busy during the pandemic, conducting court conferences and depositions virtually. Defending cases virtually certainly takes some getting used to and poses challenges for witnesses, who often feel much more comfortable being able to talk in person and ask questions. Here’s an example of a recent day:

9:00 a.m.: Review communications briefing for a client in a high-profile lawsuit with national news coverage.

10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.: Video syncs with teams of associates helping to respond to government subpoenas about online advertising.

12:15 p.m.–2:30p.m.: Video sync with associates to give and get feedback about a successful matter (just finished!) and talk about the next month of preparing a defense to an antitrust claim. Ask associates to give thought to how the process could improve the next time.

12:30 p.m.–2:00 p.m.: Drafting for and emailing with a new platform client responding to a DOJ settlement that may impact the client’s interests.

3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.: Video sync with new associate who has lateraled to the firm to answer questions about new assignments and check in on her integration into the group. Talk about a client’s ask for a pitch and budget on a case and how we grow relationships with new clients.

The rest of the afternoon into evening: Videocalls with cross-office associate team to talk about expected government lawsuit in another case and how to prepare for the first day of the case when filed. Draft summary to give the client an update on key facts.

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

I would recommend that a person seek out and get to know antitrust professors and lawyers (newer and more experienced) who have worked in government, firm, or in-house positions to ask them about their careers and get to know the subject matter area. In terms of training, the more practical exposure newer lawyers have, the more confident they will be in problem-solving and working with clients and other people. A lack of confidence (especially when starting out in a legal career when one has less experience) can be paralyzing. Among the best ways to gain confidence and practical experience are clinics and other court/client-oriented programs at law school, federal or state clerkships, and pro bono representations that put you in contact with people who need your help.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Like our clients—which include the full range of technology companies, from new startups to well-known social media and digital platforms—our lawyering needs to be fast paced, creative, and energetic. Our clients are trailblazers, and we strive to keep up and advise them well as they grow and change. 

I came to Wilson Sonsini’s Antitrust practice because it was one of the most innovative and dynamic competition practices among the top-tier groups, and we’re more diverse than most other firms. We’re also more informal in our work style at Wilson Sonsini, which was a refreshing change for me given that every other work environment I have been in was much more starched!

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

Here is what a third-year attorney has worked on with me in the course of a week:

Preparing and thinking through material for Department of Justice depositions and attending the prep session and the deposition with the witness.

Researching and making a recommendation to a client about responding to a leak of confidential information to the press by another party in a high-profile investigation.

Researching criminal procedure topics for a DOJ investigation.

Planning for a pro bono trial.

Attending a lunch for diverse antitrust attorneys to encourage law students to explore antitrust.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

Summer associates with Wilson Sonsini’s Antitrust group do real work, and we have them try out the same types of projects that they would do if they joined us after law school—seeing depositions, researching and drafting memos and briefs, and interacting with clients. They get to know colleagues of all experience levels, from new associates to senior partners. We have them help us with business development (e.g., attending client meetings and preparing presentations), so they see how clients view us and how important client relationships are for our practice. We also give feedback on their work, including areas for further development. We want them to have a realistic idea of what it is like to work as a Wilson Sonsini antitrust attorney.

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

Among the newer attorneys I have a chance to work with in my practice, there are many paths:

Federal, state, or overseas antitrust/competition agencies (e.g., Department of Justice has an Honors Attorney Program for new attorneys to join government service).

Private law firms of all sizes, working on antitrust litigation (plaintiff or defense side), counseling on antitrust issues, and responding to government investigations.

Nonprofit competition and consumer protection public interest and advocacy organizations.

In-house legal departments that have M&A, litigation, competition, and regulatory attorneys.

Research and other academic positions in economic and competition areas.

Wendy Huang Waszmer, Partner—Antitrust & Litigation

Wendy Huang Waszmer is an antitrust and litigation partner who represents and defends companies and individual employees in antitrust, criminal cartel, and other U.S. and cross-border government investigations and in federal court cases and trials. Her first experience in antitrust was working on a Department of Justice investigation as a first-year associate. On that investigation, she saw up close how companies and their employees, as well as government prosecutors, respond to allegations that collusion or fraud has undermined markets and consumer interests. After that, she spent 10 years in public service as a law clerk to the Honorable Richard J. Leon, United States District Judge for the District of Columbia; an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York; and later, in policy and leadership roles in the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Being part of the Wilson Sonsini team has been a boost to her practice because of the firm’s experience with high-tech and innovative companies, the diversity of viewpoints and expertise of her colleagues, and the “think-outside-of-the-box” culture.

Julia K. York, Partner

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

My practice area is antitrust and competition. Skadden handles all types of antitrust matters, including mergers and acquisitions, litigation, and investigations. My practice focuses on antitrust litigation and government investigations. I work on complex litigation matters from complaint through to trial or settlement and on Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice investigations (both merger- and conduct-related). I have a particular interest in antitrust issues facing the pharmaceutical industry, as well as the intersection of antitrust and intellectual property law.

What types of clients do you represent?

I represent a variety of clients from a wide spectrum of industries, including the pharmaceutical sector (such as Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.), the payments sector (such as Visa Inc.), the telecommunications industry (such as Sprint Corp. and Nokia), and metals warehousing (such as Glencore affiliate Access World [USA] LLC). Many of the clients I represent are large multinational companies, while others are primarily U.S. based.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I have been fortunate to work on a number of high-profile matters. One of the high points of my career was getting to work on FTC v. Actavis, which went before the Supreme Court in 2013. More recently, I have worked on various merger litigation matters, such as New York v. Deutsche Telekom, in which a group of state attorneys general unsuccessfully sought to block the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, and United States v. Sabre Corp., in which the DOJ unsuccessfully sought to block Sabre’s acquisition of Farelogix. Currently, I am working on United States v. Visa Inc., in which the DOJ is seeking to block Visa’s acquisition of Plaid Inc. I also work on multidistrict antitrust class action litigations and government investigations.

How did you choose this practice area?

During law school, I developed an interest in antitrust because of the way it really reflects an intersection of law, business, and economics. For antitrust matters, it is critically important to gain a deep understanding of the industry and its participants as well as how competition works. I also love research and writing, and very much enjoy digging into antitrust case law to understand how the law has been developed by the courts.

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

A typical day might involve meeting with my team working on a given litigation to discuss case status and tasks to move the matter forward. If we’re working on briefing, I’m often editing outlines or the briefs themselves. If I’m preparing for a deposition or a hearing, I will review the relevant documents/briefs/case law. These days, I’m attending meetings with clients and co-counsel via Webex. I am co-chair of Skadden’s Washington, DC, women’s affinity group, and we meet regularly to plan upcoming events.

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

I think taking an antitrust class in law school is certainly helpful, and having an understanding of and interest in economics is a plus.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I really enjoy working with clients in diverse industries—getting to know the industry and the competitive dynamics is something I find both interesting and challenging. I also love reading cases, brief-writing, and thinking creatively to find unexpected analogies across different types of antitrust cases. In addition, I enjoy working collaboratively with my colleagues to develop the strategic direction for my matters.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Our practice area is somewhat unique in that we do both transactional and litigation work. Our practice group has lawyers across offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia, enabling us to serve clients globally.

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

At our firm, junior lawyers become involved in all aspects of our matters. On transactional matters, for example, they may perform a quick overlap analysis for a proposed merger to understand where antitrust issues might arise. On litigation matters, a junior associate would typically perform legal research, become the point-person for the facts of the case, and assist with deposition preparation and other discovery matters, among other tasks.

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

Lawyers who are interested in antitrust typically start out at either a firm or the government (FTC or DOJ). Several lawyers from our group have moved over to the government, and a number have come back to the private sector following senior government experience. Some larger companies also have in-house antitrust positions.

Julia K. York, Partner—Antitrust/Competition

Julia York has represented numerous global corporations in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, energy, and financial markets, in both litigation and transactional matters. Ms. York also counsels clients on various antitrust matters and has participated on panels discussing antitrust issues relevant to the pharmaceutical industry. Ms. York actively works on pro bono matters, including representing various amici curiae on briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court and various U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. She has been named in The Legal 500 U.S.

Ms. York is a co-chair of Skadden’s Washington, DC, women’s affinity group. She completed her J.D. at Columbia University School of Law and received her B.A. from Amherst College.

Elaine Ewing, Partner
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

There are two major components to my practice. First, merger clearances—securing antitrust approvals of mergers and acquisitions. Second, antitrust litigation—primarily defending companies who are the subject of government investigations and/or private civil litigation.

This transaction/litigation split is typical at Cleary Gottlieb. We don’t think of “antitrust lawyers” and “antitrust litigators” separately. Instead, all of our antitrust lawyers are litigators. This helps us be more effective lawyers—when we are working to secure a merger clearance, we have the perspective of a litigator and can better think about how we might defend the deal if it is challenged by antitrust regulators. And as litigators, we often represent companies we know very well from years of working on their transactions.

What types of clients do you represent?

One of the great things about antitrust is the wide variety of products and industries that I get to learn about. My clients range from technology companies (Google) to consumer products companies (Coca-Cola, Whirlpool) to chemical companies (Dow Chemical) to health care companies and beyond. As an antitrust lawyer, I learn their businesses inside and out. Whether it’s defending a client’s business practices in court or negotiating with regulators in connection with a transaction, I have to understand the companies’ products and business models and how they fit in with the law.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

On the transactional side, antitrust lawyers work on obtaining merger clearances—basically, convincing the antitrust authorities in the U.S. and other countries that a proposed transaction won’t lead to higher prices or otherwise harm competition.

In litigation, our job is usually explaining to a court why a company’s business practices (pricing, contracts, product design, etc.) don’t violate the antitrust laws. (Sometimes, we act for plaintiffs, and get to argue that another company’s practices do violate the antitrust laws, which is an interesting change of pace.)

How did you choose this practice area?

I went into law school thinking I wanted to be a litigator; I was only vaguely aware of antitrust. As I talked with lawyers during the law firm interview process and learned more about different practice areas, antitrust stood out. I’ve always been a curious person, and the idea of learning about so many different industries appealed to me quite a bit. As a summer associate at Cleary Gottlieb, I got to try out antitrust law, among other areas, and confirmed that it was indeed what I wanted to pursue. Fifteen years later, it’s still fresh and interesting.

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

There really is no typical day or week. My favorite part of my job, which I spend a fair amount of time doing, is interviewing businesspeople and learning about what they do all day. I also spend a lot of time talking with executives, experts, in-house lawyers, economists, colleagues, and co-counsel to help develop our strategy in each of our cases. And, of course, I spend time working on the briefs and presentations that will persuade courts and authorities of our position and then making the corresponding arguments and presentations.

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

Besides taking antitrust classes, getting as much of a background in economics as you can is a great start to being an antitrust lawyer. We aren’t economists who are processing data ourselves, but we work closely with economic experts and need to be able to translate their work into a form that can be understood by regulators and judges. But don’t despair if you don’t have an economics background—there is plenty of opportunity to learn economics as a junior associate.

Otherwise, I would encourage anyone interested in practicing at a firm, whether in antitrust or another practice area, to take the classes that cover the topics most relevant to our clients, including Corporations and Securities Regulation. If you’re going to represent major public companies, it’s very helpful to understand at a basic level how they are structured and governed. And when dealing with companies that are under investigation, it’s helpful to have at least some familiarity with their disclosure obligations.

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

Antitrust transactional work moves quickly. That isn’t necessarily negative—unlike in many practice areas, antitrust matters typically go from start to finish in a year or less, meaning that you get a lot of varied experience in a short period of time. However, the pace often means you need to get up to speed and become an educated advocate very quickly. That is often challenging, especially when transactions involve particularly complicated products that require time and energy to understand before you even start thinking about the legal arguments.

What do you like best about your practice area?

For me, the best thing about antitrust law is the tight nexus to business and industry. I was and remain drawn to the intersection between law and business—and not only representing companies, but learning the details of their day-to-day business and the markets in which they operate. A lot of law students have the idea that they want to be “corporate” lawyers. While certainly some of these students are genuinely interested in drafting corporate documents and negotiating deals, my experience has been that many are really excited about being involved in business from the legal side. For those students, antitrust law is the perfect fit. Practicing antitrust law gives you tremendous exposure to all aspects of a company’s business, from working with corporate development groups and investment bankers on a company’s M&A strategy to working with the day-to-day businesspeople who are involved in designing, marketing, and selling products.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Because of its economic focus, antitrust law can be intimidating to some law students. But there is really no need for a masters’ degree (or even an undergraduate degree) in economics. Curiosity and a willingness to learn are critical, but with those, any interested law student can become a successful antitrust lawyer.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Our antitrust practice stands out because of its global depth. We have antitrust lawyers in most of our offices globally and work closely with our colleagues to secure global clearances and defend against investigations in many jurisdictions. I’m on the phone with colleagues in Europe almost daily as we work together to best represent our clients. Our global team is especially strong because so many of our antitrust lawyers have spent time practicing in other offices, whether as summer associates (I spent half of my summer associate tenure in Brussels), associates, or partners.

In the time I’ve been at Cleary Gottlieb, the practice has only become more international. Dozens of countries now have merger control regimes, and major transactions can involve 10, 15, or more filings. I’ve been involved with filings in more than two dozen jurisdictions on six continents. I won’t list them all, but they include China, India, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, and Australia. The same is true on the litigation side, where more and more countries are developing antitrust enforcement and private civil litigation regimes. My civil litigation practice has included, in addition to the U.S., cases in Canada, the U.K., Germany, Brazil, and Israel.

Elaine Ewing, Partner—Antitrust

Elaine Ewing is known for her impressive work across all areas of antitrust law, including merger reviews by the U.S. FTC, the U.S. DOJ, and foreign authorities; civil antitrust litigation; criminal and civil antitrust investigations; and antitrust counseling. She has worked on numerous high-profile matters, including representing Google in its $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit, Dow Chemical in its $130 billion merger of equals with DuPont, International Flavors and Fragrances in its $45.4 billion merger with DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, Thales in its €4.8 billion acquisition of Gemalto, and Whirlpool Corporation in the sale of its Embraco refrigeration compressors business.

She has served on the Steering Committee of Global Competition Review’s Women in Antitrust Conference in 2018 and 2019 and has spoken at conferences or panels arranged by the American Bar Association, Concurrences, The Capital Forum, and CBI. Elaine was named to Global Competition Review’s “40 under 40” list; a “Rising Star” in Legal Media Group’s Expert Guides; and a “Top Litigator Under 40” by Benchmark Litigation, which also included her on its “Under 40 Hot List” in 2018 and 2019.

Ms. Ewing received a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School and her undergraduate degree from Amherst College.

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