June 23, 2008
Sokol on Antitrust Counsel (and Some Thoughts on Chambers Generally)
Posted by Jeff Lipshaw (cross-posted at PrawfsBlawg)
Danny Sokol (Florida) has an interesting post over at Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog (a Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network) about the Chambers USA rankings of New York City and Washington D.C antitrust lawyers. The question is why general counsels would want to hire antitrust deal counsel without a substantial history with (or employment by) one of the agencies. He list several reasons, to which I added one in the comments:
Perhaps the most significant reason to use antitrust counsel closely tied to the agencies (whether or not former agency people) is their insight and credibility on the toughest issue of all: if you have a deal that is potentially troublesome, do you immediately follow up the HSR filing with a trip over to the FTC or DOJ, or do you even make a pre-filing trip over to talk about it? This issue comes up in many, many industrial deals where you are talking a four to three or even a three to two combination, the HHI is apparently sky-high, but there is industrial logic to the deal, and qualitative aspects to it that do not surface in a top level look.
By the way, if you think playing the US News law school ranking game is fun, Chambers (both Global and USA) is an absolute treat. Just to follow up on Danny's post, during my career as a general counsel, of the listing of Washington antitrust lawyers, I used one from Band One and four from Band Two, and of the listing of New York antitrust lawyers, one from Band One and one from Band Four. I suppose if required to force rank them, I could, but I'm not sure how. The fact is, they were all really good, and I'm not sure what quantitative or qualitative scales the Chambers people use to make these distinctions. The idea of bands is a good one, but at this level, I'm still not sure that it gives off a false granularity as to skill or results. It may well be an accurate grouping as to brand recognition. I do know that I am still a close friend of one of the Washington antitrust lawyers, and both his band ranking and his one-liner description from a couple years ago were a source of endless ragging.
I always eagerly awaited my complementary volume of Chambers, particularly once it began to do rankings in the non-financial center U.S. cities. For example, I know almost everybody (including former partners, associates, and adversaries) in the Michigan corporate and M&A rankings, as well as the litigation rankings, and get no end of chuckles from the one-liner descriptions, not to mention the inclusions, exclusions, and relative band rankings of my own former partners.
Take a look at the format, and see if you don't agree that a law school version just begs to be published.
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