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For antitrust and competition lawyers, 2009 has been a year full of interesting and significant developments. It is almost certain that 2010 will prove just as interesting, as the changes in leadership in the United States and other jurisdictions result in possible reconsideration of substantive principles and enforcement priorities. As the most active professional organisation serving antitrust and competition lawyers around the globe, the American Bar Association Section of Antitrust Law seeks to respond to these developments through the full range of activities and services it provides: publications, programming, advocacy, education, and outreach.
Transitions in antitrust enforcement, both in the US and internationally, will occupy much of the Section’s attention in the coming year. As the priorities of a new administration become clear, the Section looks forward to engaging in constructive discussion and debate as to the benefits and consequences of changes in enforcement policy and priorities. Likewise, as competition law and enforcement continues to evolve and grow in other jurisdictions, the Section will continue to provide its insights into proposed changes in policy or enforcement around the world.
The Section held an Antitrust Symposium on Competition as Public Policy on 13 and 14 May 2009, which focused on whether competition should and will continue to serve as the foundation for economic policy and legislation. The written materials for this symposium will be available shortly. The Section will continue to respond to the changing face of competition law with its programming activities for the coming year. The Section will begin its fiscal year by holding a symposium on 11 September 2009 in conjunction with the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies of Loyola University Chicago School of Law to examine the different institutional frameworks for implementing competition law and policy. These frameworks may be of even greater significance than the substantive rules they apply, but have received far less attention. Featuring three international panels of senior antitrust scholars and practitioners, this conference seeks to approach this critical issue from a comparative perspective.
The Antitrust Litigation Course on 15 and 16 October 2010 in Chicago will offer a hands-on demonstration of successful techniques in merger litigation – an area that many expect to attract significant attention over the coming years.
The Annual Fall Forum in Washington, DC, on 12 and 13 November 2009, will provide one of the first opportunities to hear from the new leadership in the US and from senior enforcers of the European Commission’s DG Competition. The Fall Forum will feature a keynote address by Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz and Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, and presentations by many other US and EU enforcers.
The Section’s International Cartels Program will be held in Paris on 10 to 12 February 2010, and is being co-sponsored by the International Bar Association. Next will be our 2010 Spring Meeting, to be held in Washington, DC, from 21 to 23 April. The Spring Meeting has become one of the ‘must attend’ events of the annual competition law calendar, with approximately 2,200 attorneys and economists attending the 2009 Spring Meeting, including over 300 attorneys, government enforcement officials and economists from more than 40 countries outside the US – statistics that highlight the truly international character of the gathering. The Spring Meeting will continue to offer multiple programming ‘tracks’ in order to highlight programming of particular interest to international, corporate, and litigation practitioners.
The final programme for the fiscal year will be a symposium co-sponsored with Stanford Law School on 20 and 21 May 2010 discussing the role of antitrust policy in fostering innovation. The panels will cover: innovation policy and economics – what drives innovation; merger enforcement and innovation; unilateral conduct; licensing, and innovation; standards, patent pools and innovation; and reconciling patent policy and competition policy.
The Section will continue to issue outstanding resources for antitrust practitioners, enforcers, and scholars. A new and expanded edition of the Section’s compendium of international antitrust law, Competition Laws Outside the United States (2nd), will be published early in 2010. As in prior years, the Section will prepare an annual supplement for its well-known Antitrust Law Developments treatise, the best single source for the state of US competition law. New titles expected in 2009 to 2010 include books on monopolisation and dominance, interlocking directorates, market definition and market power, and antitrust compliance.
The Antitrust Law Journal, the Section’s peer-reviewed journal of legal and economic articles, continues to be cited in more US antitrust judicial opinions than any other law journal. It will continue to publish articles addressing the most complex and challenging issues in the field of competition law.
Antitrust Magazine, which is published three times a year, will continue to offer practical analyses of court decisions and government enforcement actions. The Antitrust Source, the Section’s online magazine, offers timely analyses and commentary on recent developments, as well as presenting book reviews, commentary on recent scholarship, and interviews with government enforcement officials and other competition leaders.
To facilitate scholarship in competition policy, the Section will also co-sponsor with the Association of American Law Schools a Junior Scholars Program that will provide a forum for professors of law and economics from the United States and abroad to present in an interactive setting their most recent work. The Program is currently scheduled for January 2010.
During the summer of 2009, the Section funded five distinguished law students a US$5,000 stipend to pursue an unpaid summer employment opportunity within approved government agencies (federal, state, or international) dedicated to the enforcement of antitrust laws. In addition, each fellow has been assigned a Section mentor to offer any assistance and advice during the summer.
The Section also continues to devote considerable attention and resources to the consumer protection field. Two committees, Consumer Protection and Privacy and Information Security, focus on recent developments in this area and seek to provide the resources necessary for Section members to deal with this rapidly changing area of law. This year, we have added a new committee focusing on private advertising litigation. The Section also continues to offer fellowships to law students in order to commit them to work in state attorneys general offices during the summer on consumer protection issues. These fellowships, named in honour of former FTC Chairman Janet Steiger, last year permitted over 20 law students to be exposed to consumer protection issues and to consider potential careers in this area.
The Section will continue to seek to improve its use of technology and to take full advantage of new methods to deliver its substantive content to antitrust practitioners throughout the world. Teleseminars have become an important means of delivering Continuing Legal Education (CLE) training, and electronic ‘brown bag lunches’ offered by the Section’s committees provide Section members with the ability to participate regardless of their location. Moreover, since these ‘brown bags’ are available as audio downloads from the Section’s web page, they can be accessed at any time.
Working with the ABA Young Lawyers Division (YLD), the Antitrust Section has developed an ‘Antitrust Basics’ programme, introducing new lawyers interested in antitrust to the key legal and economic concepts underlying this practice. The content of that programme continues to grow, and gives valuable resources for the development of practical skills to further the career development of attorneys new to the antitrust practice.
The coming year should be another active year for antitrust and competition lawyers. The changes in leadership at the various agencies is certain to shape antitrust policy going forward. New competition laws in China and India, and changes and refinements to these laws in many other jurisdictions, are likely to have significant long-term impacts on the way we view and apply competition law principles. The Section has previously taken an active role in the development of competition law both in the United States and globally, having submitted comments before the Federal Trade Commission and the US Congress in the United States, as well as with competition authorities in Europe, Canada, Australia, India, China, Japan and Korea. The ABA Section of Antitrust Law will continue to be actively engaged in this process as it seeks to assist its members and the larger international antitrust and competition law community in their practices while promoting the adoption and implementation of sound competition policy worldwide.