Federal antitrust atty taking qs

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 19, 2020 7:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
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.
Not OP but another antitrust attorney at one of the two agencies. At least some shops in DOJ offer alternative work schedules. As for salary, I know that c/o 2011-13 grads received GS-15 Step 10 at DOJ. Seems to me that FTC might pay less but that's not backed up by anything concrete. I echo everything else in OP's post.

Re: the IP litigator. I know of at least one former IP litigator who didn't do antitrust work who now works at FTC. Given that SEPs and FRAND are hot issues in the antitrust community right now, you can probably spin your experience into something attractive, especially if you're applying for a job at the FTC. (To put it mildly, Makan doesn't seem interested in any antitrust-IP cases, unless it's against licensees).

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 20, 2020 7:11 am

[/quote]

Thanks - on 2, is there a meaningful overlap at the agencies of those who do merger challenges/cartel lit?
[/quote]

OP here. DOJ and FTC share jurisdiction over civil antitrust, so both will bring merger challenges and investigate civil conduct matters. Clearance agreements split enforcement across the agencies by industry. DOJ has exclusive jurisdiction over criminal matters; DOJ will investigate criminal cases against alleged cartels.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 20, 2020 7:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:
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?
OP here. There's a screening process that HR does to filter out resumes that don't meet the minimum criteria (e.g., bar admission, law degree). I don't see a lot of 5 page resumes though...

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 20, 2020 7:19 am

Anonymous User wrote:
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.
I don't see why not, though I haven't seen this happen personally. Again, the main thing is having relevant experience. I don't think being in house is disqualifying. The question is whether spending 2-4 years in house gives you experience that is attractive relative to the broader applicant pool. It could! However, if your in-house role takes into more of a pure counseling/compliance/business function, that may be more limiting compared to what your outside counsel counterparts are doing. Some in house roles allow for a strong blend of counseling/compliance and investigation-oriented work, which could be helpful and attractive.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 20, 2020 7:21 am

OP here. I'm happy to keep answering questions. Looks like there are at least 2 other agency lawyers on this thread. Feel free to jump in as well if you think I'm off base or have different views!

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 20, 2020 9:57 pm

Are there any “feeder” firms in DC that DOJ/FTC prefer to hire from?

Asked another way, do you recognize any firms that several your colleagues used to work at?

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 21, 2020 12:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 9:57 pm
Are there any “feeder” firms in DC that DOJ/FTC prefer to hire from?

Asked another way, do you recognize any firms that several your colleagues used to work at?
Not OP. Totally unrepresentative sample, but off the top of my head I can think of multiple agency lawyers who used to work at Covington, A&P, Skadden, Cleary, Crowell, and Latham. Otherwise, my colleagues come from a pretty wide spread of firms, with about 80% of the Chambers list represented.

I don’t think you need to start at any of the aforementioned firms but if you’re thinking of which law firm to practice at before landing at an agency, a few thoughts. One, find a firm with a strong antitrust practice that will give you substantive experience on difficult investigations and litigations. Along the lines of what OP has said, you want depth, not necessarily breadth. Second, find a firm that has agency vets. When the time comes to apply for a job, they’ll be invaluable in giving you advice about your career path and also in putting in a good word for you.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 21, 2020 6:01 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 12:37 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 9:57 pm
Are there any “feeder” firms in DC that DOJ/FTC prefer to hire from?

Asked another way, do you recognize any firms that several your colleagues used to work at?
Not OP. Totally unrepresentative sample, but off the top of my head I can think of multiple agency lawyers who used to work at Covington, A&P, Skadden, Cleary, Crowell, and Latham. Otherwise, my colleagues come from a pretty wide spread of firms, with about 80% of the Chambers list represented.

I don’t think you need to start at any of the aforementioned firms but if you’re thinking of which law firm to practice at before landing at an agency, a few thoughts. One, find a firm with a strong antitrust practice that will give you substantive experience on difficult investigations and litigations. Along the lines of what OP has said, you want depth, not necessarily breadth. Second, find a firm that has agency vets. When the time comes to apply for a job, they’ll be invaluable in giving you advice about your career path and also in putting in a good word for you.
OP here. I totally agree with this, particularly the bit about working at firms that have a lot of agency alums. As the prior poster noted, they can give you advice about career paths and serve as references. Moreover, those partners are likely to have work that is agency facing, which can provide you opportunities to get substantive exposure to the agencies. Clients facing government investigations will often retain former agency attorneys who know the process and have worked on those investigations.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 21, 2020 3:57 pm

Bring out your antitrust agency attorneys!

The discussion is timely for anyone interested in making the jump--a few FTC divisions are hiring right now. The USAJobs links are below. One is for positions in Mergers 4 and Anticompetitive practices in DC, and the other is for the Western Region Office in San Francisco. This is a very good time to get your application materials in the pool for consideration, as other divisions often look at these resume pools when they need to hire. Make sure to apply through USAJobs before the deadline, so by June 1st (DC) or June 8th (SF) with these postings, or they can't consider you (as in don't just work a connection and submit your materials through him/her). This is a pretty strict government requirement with USAJobs postings and I don't think there's any flexibility for bringing people in who haven't applied through the posting.

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/568160300

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/568344200

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 21, 2020 8:23 pm

Question for OP and other agency attorneys: What are some things applicants have done historically to stand out when they’re not from a feeder firm or one with a lot of agency vets? Thank you.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 22, 2020 9:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:23 pm
Question for OP and other agency attorneys: What are some things applicants have done historically to stand out when they’re not from a feeder firm or one with a lot of agency vets? Thank you.
I don't want to hijack OP's thread--he/she is doing a great job and I agree with everything said--but I'm an anon from above who has some experience helping with hiring. The first two things that jump out at me: (1) highlight your antitrust experience as explicitly as possible (i.e. I worked on an HSR investigation/2R, responded to agency inquiries, etc.); and (2) make your application materials look clean and professional.

The OP already highlighted 1 and I would just reaffirm that no one will probably look at your grades if you have good relevant experience. I would also add that connections go a long way. Reach out to anyone at the agencies you know. With respect to 2, this is something that probably doesn't need to be said but just in case. We receive tons of applications for lateral hiring. The initial decision for screener interviews can come down to the margins, and sloppy materials dinged some people. Don't make an easily avoidable mistake. Also, if you get an interview, people are sensitive to anyone sounding too "firm like." I would really focus on toning down any hint of hierarchical thinking and approach to the workplace. The government agencies (in my experience) just don't really work that way and people won't want to hire someone who seems like they will bring that mentality. Many will want to ding you as a "bad personality fit," whether that's accurate or not.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 22, 2020 12:47 pm

.

Anonymous User
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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 22, 2020 9:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:57 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:23 pm
Question for OP and other agency attorneys: What are some things applicants have done historically to stand out when they’re not from a feeder firm or one with a lot of agency vets? Thank you.
I don't want to hijack OP's thread--he/she is doing a great job and I agree with everything said--but I'm an anon from above who has some experience helping with hiring. The first two things that jump out at me: (1) highlight your antitrust experience as explicitly as possible (i.e. I worked on an HSR investigation/2R, responded to agency inquiries, etc.); and (2) make your application materials look clean and professional.

The OP already highlighted 1 and I would just reaffirm that no one will probably look at your grades if you have good relevant experience. I would also add that connections go a long way. Reach out to anyone at the agencies you know. With respect to 2, this is something that probably doesn't need to be said but just in case. We receive tons of applications for lateral hiring. The initial decision for screener interviews can come down to the margins, and sloppy materials dinged some people. Don't make an easily avoidable mistake. Also, if you get an interview, people are sensitive to anyone sounding too "firm like." I would really focus on toning down any hint of hierarchical thinking and approach to the workplace. The government agencies (in my experience) just don't really work that way and people won't want to hire someone who seems like they will bring that mentality. Many will want to ding you as a "bad personality fit," whether that's accurate or not.
OP here. I endorse all of this 100%. Re: the interviews, this poster is right about personality fit being important to a lot of interviewers. It can be a little ridiculous. Also be careful about explaining why you're leaving your firm. Some people can be skeptical about people leaving big law if it seems joining gov't is either a consolation prize or just a detour before you try to go back (perhaps with a title bump). Communicating a sincere desire to be in government and serving the public is important.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 23, 2020 1:57 pm

What is your opinion of state antitrust units? I worked for one over the summer as an intern and wonder if starting out there is a viable path to eventually get to DOJ.

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Re: Federal antitrust atty taking qs

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 24, 2020 8:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 1:57 pm
What is your opinion of state antitrust units? I worked for one over the summer as an intern and wonder if starting out there is a viable path to eventually get to DOJ.
OP here. The other agency folks should jump in here as well, as responses to this question will necessarily rely on anecdotal information. The state AG units really vary in sophistication, staffing, and antitrust focus. A lot of state antitrust units also do other stuff (like anti-fraud/consumer protection work). This variety can be great if you don't want to become a super-specialist, and it is really important work that protects vulnerable populations. It can also mean getting into court a lot more (particularly if the state AG is active in bringing state law criminal cases against consumer protection violators). Depending on the state, working in a state antitrust unit may also involve a little more travel as you may have to attend hearings across your state in a way that I generally don't.

If you want to do really sophisticated antitrust enforcement (like merger enforcement), it's a little more complicated. State antitrust units can be really helpful partners in federal antitrust investigations. A lot of times, when you see states join in federal antitrust investigations/enforcement actions, they've been involved throughout the matter. However, because state units are smaller, they generally don't have the resources that the feds do. That means they are sometimes juggling more matters and therefore take more of a backseat to the feds so they can focus on the matters that the feds aren't working on (e.g., the state level consumer protection issues).

In my experience states don't do a lot of solo antitrust work that doesn't involve the feds (the Sprint/T-mobile challenge is the exception to the rule). CA, NY, WA, PA have pretty active state antitrust divisions based purely on some press releases I've seen re: enforcement activities that don't seem to name the feds as co-plaintiffs.

In terms of whether it's a viable path to getting to DOJ, it would depend on what you do. It could be, particularly if you get to manage some of your own investigations, etc., and interface with DOJ. I'd do my best to make sure I'm working on cases where I can build skills in taking depositions, getting into court, managing investigations--anything that involves building a record. That would mean a mix of working on cases involving the feds and managing my own state-law docket.

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