Federal antitrust atty taking qs

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Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 16, 2020 11:46 am

Happy to answer general career-related questions about federal antitrust practice. Keeping this anonymous for obvious reasons, but generally speaking, spent time in big law before coming to DOJ/FTC to work on antitrust investigations. Fire away. I'll check for new questions regularly.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 16, 2020 5:51 pm

After 6-7 years in big law, how relevant are law school grades?

I graduated middle of the pack at a T6, and would like to one day move into FTC/DOJ.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 16, 2020 6:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 5:51 pm
After 6-7 years in big law, how relevant are law school grades?

I graduated middle of the pack at a T6, and would like to one day move into FTC/DOJ.
OP here. Generally speaking, the longer you're out of law school, the less your grades matter. I don't want to imply they don't matter at all; they can be a tie breaker or help get your application pulled from a pile.
Candidates with stellar grades are going to get noticed. Generally speaking, gov't lateral hiring in antitrust is competitive. If you're simply applying via USAJobs without a reference, your resume will really need to stand out if you want any chance of getting an interview. For lateral hiring, the thing that matters the most is meaningful relevant experience. The longer you're out of law school, the more experience you will be expected to have with the nuts and bolts of antitrust law. At your level, the agencies will expect that you would have been heavily involved in responding to second requests in merger reviews or the equivalent subpoenas for conduct matters. If you're an antitrust litigator that doesn't do agency-facing work, you could be competitive if you have strong litigation experience, including working with experts and depositions.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by sparty99 » Sat May 16, 2020 7:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 11:46 am
Happy to answer general career-related questions about federal antitrust practice. Keeping this anonymous for obvious reasons, but generally speaking, spent time in big law before coming to DOJ/FTC to work on antitrust investigations. Fire away. I'll check for new questions regularly.
What was your law school's ranking, what was your class rank, and can you talk about the application process? How long did it take you to get an interview after you applied? How long did it take to get an offer after you interviewed. How long was the background check after you received the offer? How long was the entire application process from when you applied to when you started?

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 17, 2020 8:17 am

What are your thoughts on DOJ’s (Eg Makan’s) politicization of antitrust enforcement and the opening of baseless, politically motivated investigations? Do you think that will tarnish your resume, or maybe not since you’re “just” a line attorney?

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 17, 2020 8:58 am

sparty99 wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 7:10 pm
What was your law school's ranking, what was your class rank, and can you talk about the application process? How long did it take you to get an interview after you applied? How long did it take to get an offer after you interviewed. How long was the background check after you received the offer? How long was the entire application process from when you applied to when you started?
I went to a top-10 school, was top 10-15% of my class. I was in private practice for a couple of years when i applied. I applied through a posting, which involved submitting a cover letter (identifying which specific sections/divisions I was interested in), resume, and writing sample. I don't recall if I was required to submit references as part of the application or if that was requested separately but I definitely submitted references at some point. The timings here are rough approximates: I received an interview invitation within 2 weeks of the close of the posting date, interviewed one week after that, and received an offer 2-3 weeks later. So I probably had an offer within 6-7 weeks of close of the posting. Honestly, having been involved in hiring in government, there can be real variation in the time periods based on how many applicants there are, how many candidates get interviews, and how busy the agency is.

Background check took a couple of months (maybe 2?).

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 17, 2020 9:07 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 8:17 am
What are your thoughts on DOJ’s (Eg Makan’s) politicization of antitrust enforcement and the opening of baseless, politically motivated investigations? Do you think that will tarnish your resume, or maybe not since you’re “just” a line attorney?
I don't want to get into a political discussion here. I'll just say that I'm not concerned about my reputation at all, or the impact on my resume. I personally haven't been instructed to do something that I consider to be "wrong" and haven't witnessed something like that. Moreover, I think most employers in gov't and outside gov't have a lot trust in the integrity of civil servants. I think morale in the agencies can sway from positive to negative based on your perceptions of whether or not the agencies are bringing enough cases or are focusing on the right cases. That's less of a reputation/resume issue and more of a personal happiness issue.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Petrichor » Sun May 17, 2020 9:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 11:46 am
Happy to answer general career-related questions about federal antitrust practice. Keeping this anonymous for obvious reasons, but generally speaking, spent time in big law before coming to DOJ/FTC to work on antitrust investigations. Fire away. I'll check for new questions regularly.
What does your typical work day look like in terms of schedule/hours? Any flexibility with alternative work arrangement like 4x10, maixflex?

I assume you got in as GS-14 or its DoJ equivalent, were you able to negotiate steps or anything like that?

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 17, 2020 12:15 pm

Wow, thank you so much for doing this. I've been wondering about the FTC career path for awhile and didn't know anyone I could talk to.

I'm a patent litigator and have long been interested in the intersection of IP/antitrust. I may soon get to do real antitrust litigation work at my boutique firm. Not sure if it's enough to make a difference in the FTC hiring process, but I may try to publish a few articles with an antitrust partner on IP/antitrust issues. I am trying to develop an IP & antitrust dual specialty. Currently a midlevel with aspirations to do FTC in a few years but don't know how realistic that is coming from (1) an IP lit background, and (2) a regional boutique (though biglaw peer). Also, I understand that IP/antitrust is a relatively niche field in FTC.

Don't want to lateral to biglaw at this point like many of my coworkers on account of my IP & antitrust partner mentors.

T14 grad though with not so great grades (improved in my 2L - 3L year). Any advice or candid insight into how I can get to FTC in 3-5 years, if at all?

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 17, 2020 3:46 pm

What realistic opportunities are there for antitrust biglaw associates not in DC?

For context, I started in DC but DC is no longer viable as my partner is a professor so mobility is limited.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 17, 2020 8:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 3:46 pm
What realistic opportunities are there for antitrust biglaw associates not in DC?

For context, I started in DC but DC is no longer viable as my partner is a professor so mobility is limited.
I assume you mean realistic opportunities with the FTC/DOJ Antitrust outside of DC. Unfortunately, those opportunties are more limited. You could try applying for one of the regional offices of either agency if you live in one of those cities (NY, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, i'm missing some). DOJ's regional offices do mainly criminal antitrust; FTC's do a mix of civil antitrust and consumer protection. They both do interesting work. I'd also seriously consider applying to state AG offices. Their antitrust offices vary in size but it is certainly worth exploring.

If I misunderstood your question, let me know.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 17, 2020 8:11 pm

Petrichor wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 9:49 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 11:46 am
Happy to answer general career-related questions about federal antitrust practice. Keeping this anonymous for obvious reasons, but generally speaking, spent time in big law before coming to DOJ/FTC to work on antitrust investigations. Fire away. I'll check for new questions regularly.
What does your typical work day look like in terms of schedule/hours? Any flexibility with alternative work arrangement like 4x10, maixflex?

I assume you got in as GS-14 or its DoJ equivalent, were you able to negotiate steps or anything like that?
Work weeks vary depending on phase of an investigation/litigation. Early in an investigation, it can be a pretty standard 40 hour work week. However, if we're getting recommendations together and preparing to litigate, or are in active litigation/trial, it's big law hours. You can also expect longer hours depending on your role in a case--if you're leading teams or have other senior case team roles, you'll work longer hours than if you're not responsible for similar projects. I know sections within the Antirust Division and FTC allow for some type of telework (1 day/week), but it's meant to be actual telework, not an AWS like 4x10.

I think face time is required in the sense that I'm expected to be in the office unless I have an approved telework plan in place with my bosses, but I'm definitely able to come and go as I please within reason (for example, coming in late or leaving early) as long as I communicate with my teams well and and as long as I'm getting my work done.

Most people lateral in at a 13 or 14; I came in as a 14. There wasn't any negotiation.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 17, 2020 8:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 12:15 pm
Wow, thank you so much for doing this. I've been wondering about the FTC career path for awhile and didn't know anyone I could talk to.

I'm a patent litigator and have long been interested in the intersection of IP/antitrust. I may soon get to do real antitrust litigation work at my boutique firm. Not sure if it's enough to make a difference in the FTC hiring process, but I may try to publish a few articles with an antitrust partner on IP/antitrust issues. I am trying to develop an IP & antitrust dual specialty. Currently a midlevel with aspirations to do FTC in a few years but don't know how realistic that is coming from (1) an IP lit background, and (2) a regional boutique (though biglaw peer). Also, I understand that IP/antitrust is a relatively niche field in FTC.

Don't want to lateral to biglaw at this point like many of my coworkers on account of my IP & antitrust partner mentors.

T14 grad though with not so great grades (improved in my 2L - 3L year). Any advice or candid insight into how I can get to FTC in 3-5 years, if at all?
Glad to do it!

Re your question, my main piece of advice (not just for you but for anyone who wants to go to the FTC or DOJ) is to do as much work in antitrust as possible. Writing articles is great to demonstrate interest, and may be really attractive to the policy sections within DOJ and FTC. I don't think that's a replacement for doing the actual antitrust work if you want to work in enforcement roles. That's not because your skills wouldn't translate as an IP litigator. It's because there may be applicants with perhaps more relevant recent experience and IP skills. The other thing I'd do is network as much as possible. If you're comfortable with the antitrust partner you reference, ask him/her this question to see if they can make introductions for you. Obviously, this can be a challenge for a midlevel because you may not want to disclose your long-term goals are not to be at the firm; only you can evaluate that trade off.

(As an aside, the FTC recently did competition-related hearings and IP was a focus or sub-focus behind a few of them. May be worth reading up on what the agencies have been doing to perhaps tailor your focus in terms of the type of work you want to do.)

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 18, 2020 11:03 am

What share of applicants come from the plaintiffs' bar? Obviously that's all conduct work, but I'm curious to know how those applications stack against their biglaw counterparts.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 18, 2020 2:01 pm

Thanks for doing this, DOJ Antitrust is my pipe dream career.

With clerkship application season upon us, my question is about what advantage clerking for a COA would give you over a standard D.Ct clerkship in getting hired? Obviously DC Circuit is queen, but for us mortals who can't get those gigs, is a less prestigious circuit (e.g. 8th, 11th) viewed as noticeably better than a standard D.Ct? What if it's a really competitive D.Ct like SDNY, DDC, NDCA?

Basically trying to game my clerkship application strategy here.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by jrose55 » Mon May 18, 2020 2:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 2:01 pm
Thanks for doing this, DOJ Antitrust is my pipe dream career.

With clerkship application season upon us, my question is about what advantage clerking for a COA would give you over a standard D.Ct clerkship in getting hired? Obviously DC Circuit is queen, but for us mortals who can't get those gigs, is a less prestigious circuit (e.g. 8th, 11th) viewed as noticeably better than a standard D.Ct? What if it's a really competitive D.Ct like SDNY, DDC, NDCA?

Basically trying to game my clerkship application strategy here.
Not OP, but really felt like jumping in to comment... avoid planning too much around a pipe dream career, esp an ultraniche area like antitrust. I'm a number of years out of law school already (5+) and very few people ended up doing their pipe dream careers, including the ones with the credentials to (order of the coif and/or 9th cir. clerkship, etc.). Circumstances change (e.g. your spouse may cause you to move around), your interests change dramatically as you gain experience...

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 18, 2020 6:09 pm

Thanks for doing this:

1. If you have done antitrust your entire big law career, when is the sweet spot to go into gov? Years 4-6?

2. Do you recommend big law antitrust associates to focus either on litigation or regulatory clearance before going into gov? If so, when should that specialization begin? Are there any gov jobs where you’re working on both tracks?

3. What do you consider to be other antitrust exits from big law besides DOJ/FTC?

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 19, 2020 7:19 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 11:03 am
What share of applicants come from the plaintiffs' bar? Obviously that's all conduct work, but I'm curious to know how those applications stack against their biglaw counterparts.
OP here. This is pretty anecdotal, but I haven't really seen many plaintiffs' firm attorneys apply, which is a little surprising! I don't think there'd be any bias against plaintiffs' side alums, particularly since the government is the plaintiff in antitrust cases. If you're applying from a firm that does a lot of antitrust plaintiff side work, you could be a strong applicant if you've built up good litigation experience (especially deposition experience). Litigation skills are transferable to investigations, where the focus is on building a record and recommendation. No one expects mid-level or even senior attorneys to have trial experience, but that would be a strong distinguishing characteristic. What is probably less helpful is if you're on a bunch of cases that settle quickly and don't get into the meat of discovery, where you're doing work that's more analogous to what the agencies do in merger and conduct investigations. Settlements in cases involving DOJ and the FTC aren't like settlements in private litigation, they involve a few more hoops.

The one limiting issue is that if you're applying to one of the FTC's merger divisions or most of the DOJ's sections, a good bit of the work is merger work, and you may not have a lot of experience there. In DOJ, you'll have more of a balance, but at the FTC, the merger divisions ONLY do mergers. I wouldn't let that dissuade you as you bring other skills and you can learn how to investigate mergers. However, biglaw associates--just by the nature of how most firms structure their antitrust practices--likely have a balance of merger and conduct experience. Your conduct background would be a strength in the FTC's conduct-focused divisions, which don't really do any merger work.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 19, 2020 7:29 am

jrose55 wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 2:18 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 2:01 pm
Thanks for doing this, DOJ Antitrust is my pipe dream career.

With clerkship application season upon us, my question is about what advantage clerking for a COA would give you over a standard D.Ct clerkship in getting hired? Obviously DC Circuit is queen, but for us mortals who can't get those gigs, is a less prestigious circuit (e.g. 8th, 11th) viewed as noticeably better than a standard D.Ct? What if it's a really competitive D.Ct like SDNY, DDC, NDCA?

Basically trying to game my clerkship application strategy here.
Not OP, but really felt like jumping in to comment... avoid planning too much around a pipe dream career, esp an ultraniche area like antitrust. I'm a number of years out of law school already (5+) and very few people ended up doing their pipe dream careers, including the ones with the credentials to (order of the coif and/or 9th cir. clerkship, etc.). Circumstances change (e.g. your spouse may cause you to move around), your interests change dramatically as you gain experience...
OP here. I totally agree with this advice. I definitely wouldn't chase a specific clerkship with an eye towards getting you a job at DOJ Antitrust specifically, unless you're clerking for Easterbrook, Diane Wood, etc. Let me assure you that isn't necessary to get a job at DOJ/FTC or to be super successful in either. Most of the great antitrust lawyers I know at both agencies (including senior leadership and superstar line attorneys) did not clerk at all.

I honestly don't think people view clerkships as anything more than a signal that you had good grades, references, and writing skills. Aside from a SCOTUS clerkship or clerking for one of the judges famous for antitrust opinions, I think all other clerkships are viewed pretty equally. DC Cir may have a little more appeal only because the agencies file a lot of antitrust cases in DC, but that's changed too. I wouldn't worry about which circuit/district because of DOJ/FTC. And if you don't clerk, that's not a gating issue either if you have relevant antitrust experience.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 19, 2020 7:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 6:09 pm
Thanks for doing this:

1. If you have done antitrust your entire big law career, when is the sweet spot to go into gov? Years 4-6?

2. Do you recommend big law antitrust associates to focus either on litigation or regulatory clearance before going into gov? If so, when should that specialization begin? Are there any gov jobs where you’re working on both tracks?

3. What do you consider to be other antitrust exits from big law besides DOJ/FTC?
OP here.
1. I'd say 2-6 is pretty common and a good spot to apply. Jobs come up infrequently so don't make this a hard and fast rule. I think that like law firms, the agencies are always looking for good junior and mid level attorneys. If you're 6+ years out, you're definitely still in the mix. If you're selected for an interview, just be prepared to explain what you've done in your time at your firm (without embellishing) and why you're leaving your firm at your level, particularly if you're senior. If you're really junior, be prepared to explain why you're looking to change jobs super quickly. If you're really senior, there may be an assumption that you're leaving because you were told you aren't going to make partner. There's no shame in that, but try not to say that since it just doesn't come across well (no one wants to be a consolation prize for a job applicant). And for any applicant, be prepared to explain what you've done with some specificity (without breaking client confidences). Vague descriptions like "I was involved in X matter" aren't helpful if I don't know what you did. And, please, don't embellish. People check references, and if you overstate your experience, that'll be bad.

2. Both DOJ and FTC litigate their own merger challenges. The teams that investigate a merger will comprise the bulk of the trial team if the merger is challenged in court. My recommendation is always have a balance of merger work (meaning responding to Second Requests, not just deal counseling) and conduct/civil litigation. Having substantive merger experience is really helpful because that's a huge potion of the civil-side work. In any given year, you're mix may be skewed one way or the other, and that's fine. Just try to develop experience across both if possible. At DOJ, line attorneys get exposure to both within their divisions (so if you're in consumer products, you would do both merger and conduct investigations relating to consumer products). At the FTC, there are distinct merger divisions and conduct divisions, so you specialize more.

3. State AGs offices and in-house (pharma and big tech seem to hire antitrust lawyers in particular) seem like other destinations. If you're an antitrust litigator, you can also move to other markets and become more of a generalist. The skills are transferable.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 19, 2020 12:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 7:48 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 6:09 pm
Thanks for doing this:

1. If you have done antitrust your entire big law career, when is the sweet spot to go into gov? Years 4-6?

2. Do you recommend big law antitrust associates to focus either on litigation or regulatory clearance before going into gov? If so, when should that specialization begin? Are there any gov jobs where you’re working on both tracks?

3. What do you consider to be other antitrust exits from big law besides DOJ/FTC?
OP here.
1. I'd say 2-6 is pretty common and a good spot to apply. Jobs come up infrequently so don't make this a hard and fast rule. I think that like law firms, the agencies are always looking for good junior and mid level attorneys. If you're 6+ years out, you're definitely still in the mix. If you're selected for an interview, just be prepared to explain what you've done in your time at your firm (without embellishing) and why you're leaving your firm at your level, particularly if you're senior. If you're really junior, be prepared to explain why you're looking to change jobs super quickly. If you're really senior, there may be an assumption that you're leaving because you were told you aren't going to make partner. There's no shame in that, but try not to say that since it just doesn't come across well (no one wants to be a consolation prize for a job applicant). And for any applicant, be prepared to explain what you've done with some specificity (without breaking client confidences). Vague descriptions like "I was involved in X matter" aren't helpful if I don't know what you did. And, please, don't embellish. People check references, and if you overstate your experience, that'll be bad.

2. Both DOJ and FTC litigate their own merger challenges. The teams that investigate a merger will comprise the bulk of the trial team if the merger is challenged in court. My recommendation is always have a balance of merger work (meaning responding to Second Requests, not just deal counseling) and conduct/civil litigation. Having substantive merger experience is really helpful because that's a huge potion of the civil-side work. In any given year, you're mix may be skewed one way or the other, and that's fine. Just try to develop experience across both if possible. At DOJ, line attorneys get exposure to both within their divisions (so if you're in consumer products, you would do both merger and conduct investigations relating to consumer products). At the FTC, there are distinct merger divisions and conduct divisions, so you specialize more.

3. State AGs offices and in-house (pharma and big tech seem to hire antitrust lawyers in particular) seem like other destinations. If you're an antitrust litigator, you can also move to other markets and become more of a generalist. The skills are transferable.
Thanks - on 2, is there a meaningful overlap at the agencies of those who do merger challenges/cartel lit?

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 19, 2020 12:32 pm

For postings on USAJobs, do applications go through the typical USAJobs screening where you have to game your resume just to get past HR? (E.g. submit a 5-page resume that uses exactly all of the key words in the job description). Or is that not the case with DOJ/FTC?

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 19, 2020 12:58 pm

For DOJ generally, if a job is posted on USAJobs, you have to meet the stated requirements to get the application sent to the hiring people - generally bar admission and years of experience (so if the position requires 3 years' experience and you don't have that, USAJobs will reject your app before it goes to the component). After that, in my experience, every application gets looked at - HR doesn't screen further. I know there are a lot of resources out there giving advice on federal resumes and how to write one to get past the gatekeepers, but in my experience they don't really apply to attorney applications to DOJ. At least where I work, applications look like ordinary civilian apps - resume, cover letter, writing sample, maybe references (different offices vary on when they ask for these). I think the cover letter may be a bit more important than in some other contexts, but it's not going through some weird technical federal process.

(This may be different for non-attorney positions, though.)

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Wellsfargowagon » Tue May 19, 2020 3:58 pm

I'm an antitrust attorney at the FTC. If you'd like to know more about the FTC specifically (like the anon from 5/17 10:15a), feel free to send me a PM.

And thanks to the OP for taking questions and for providing such thoughtful and informative answers!

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 19, 2020 5:42 pm

3. State AGs offices and in-house (pharma and big tech seem to hire antitrust lawyers in particular) seem like other destinations. If you're an antitrust litigator, you can also move to other markets and become more of a generalist. The skills are transferable.
Do you think there is a way back to "Big Gov" from in-house positions? Trajectory is something like Big Law 2-4 years, pharma/tech in-house 2-4 years, and then gov.

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