Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Robert Pitofsky (1929-2018)

Antitrust legend Robert "Bob" Pitofsky has passed away.  Bob was an accomplished scholar and one of the greatest Chairmen in the history of the FTC.  

From the Georgetown press release:

Pitofsky began his teaching career at New York University Law School in 1964, teaching antitrust and federal courts. In 1970, he was appointed director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection by Federal Commission Chairman Miles Kirkpatrick — having served on the Kirkpatrick Commission study of the FTC. After serving as director of the Bureau for three years, he joined the Georgetown Law faculty until the government called again. Pitofsky served as FTC commissioner from 1978 to 1981.

He rejoined the Georgetown Law faculty in 1981 and became dean in 1983, overseeing the building of the Edward Bennett Williams Law Library in the late 1980s, the expansion of McDonough Hall and the acquisition of the land for the Gewirz Student Center. He established a full development office at the Law Center and undertook the law school’s first capital campaign, which was a success. The library, noted for its architectural design and new technology, opened in January 1989.

As dean, Pitofsky intensified efforts to attract outstanding scholars to the faculty and continued the focus on interdisciplinary scholarship, adding several joint degree programs with Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. He also “made clear his desire to elevate the moral standards of the legal profession by establishing the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics,” the late Father Robert F. Drinan, S.J., once noted. During his academic career, Pitofsky also taught at Harvard and Columbia and co-authored the leading antitrust casebook.

In 1995, Pitofsky became chairman of the Federal Trade Commission — convening hearings designed to update antitrust for the 21st century. The hearings led to revisions in the merger guidelines and new guidelines for joint ventures. During the Pitofsky years, the FTC also brought and won path-breaking antitrust cases and began to police consumer deception and privacy on the Internet.

Fittingly, Pitofsky was honored at Georgetown Law in September 2018, when a full day of FTC hearings were held, modeled after the ones he instituted in 1995. Pitofsky’s wife Sally, son David (L’91) and one of seven grandchildren attended the event. He is also survived by a son, Alexander, and a daughter, Elizabeth.

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