WHAT IS ANTITRUST LAW?
Antitrust laws are intended to prevent the development of business monopolies and to preserve and encourage competition. Two provisions - the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Act - form the basis of antitrust laws. The Sherman Act prevents any unreasonable anticompetitive conduct, such as interference with competitive pricing and distribution or attempts to monopolize a market. The Clayton Act prohibits price discrimination, exclusive contracts, mergers and interlocking directorates which substantially lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly.
The following practice area subsets can be considered a part of antitrust law:
- Anticompetitive Conduct: Actions for anticompetitive conduct can be brought by a private party or by a government agency. A wide range of acts can constitute anticompetitive conduct. For example, an agreement by two companies to refuse to sell certain products to a third company can be actionable. Another type of anticompetitive conduct that results in litigation is selling products below cost in order to obtain market share and drive a competitor out of business. Additionally, anticompetitive conduct includes a "tie-in" in which a manufacturer requires purchase of additional items in order to receive needed quantities of highly desired items.
- Mergers and Acquisitions: The antitrust laws also govern mergers and acquisitions of companies through the Clayton Act which restricts combinations that may lessen competition in a market. Some restrictions are placed on vertical integrations that involve mergers between suppliers and customers in a particular industry. Horizontal mergers involve combinations at the same distribution level.
Antitrust lawyers work in both law firms and government. Those who work in a firm represent businesses and often work at a mid-size or large law firm that has an antitrust department. Those who work for the government may work at the state level (e.g. the state's attorney general's office) or at the federal level (e.g. the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission). Many antitrust lawyers start their careers at a government agency so they can later advise companies that need to pass their activities through review by the agencies.
Most antitrust lawyers are interested in economics. Antitrust litigation requires detailed analysis of the market and review of data to determine the effects of actions on prices. Antitrust lawyers must have exceptional writing skills, legal analysis skills, good judgment, and interpersonal skills and must be detail-oriented.
IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN PURSUING A CAREER IN ANTITRUST LAW...
1. Become familiar with The Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies and get to know professors specializing in antitrust - Spencer Waller, Matthew Sag, and Lea Krivinskas Shepard.
2. Consider applying for the Student Fellowship of the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies.
3. Gain practical experience as a law clerk at a firm that has an antitrust practice and/or as an extern at a government agency. See the Chicago Area 4 or More List for firms that practice antitrust law. Externships focusing on both antitrust and consumer protection issues may be available with the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, the Illinois Attorney General's Office, regulatory agencies, and/or a wide range of public interest organizations.
4. Participate in a law school journal or writing competition to sharpen your writing skills.
5. Participate in moot court.
7. Take antitrust classes in law school. Think about taking the following classes:
- Antitrust in the Health Care Field
- Antitrust and Intellectual Property Seminar
- Consumer Law
- Corporate Compliance Programs
- Intellectual Property
- International and Comparative Employment Law
- International Business Transactions
- International Trade Law
- Law and Economics
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Products Liability Seminar
- Transnational Dispute Resolution
ANTITRUST LAW RESOURCES