GCR 100 2020



Professional notice

United States: New York

The lone antitrust boutique in this survey, AXINN remains among the top firms in one of the world’s biggest markets. The firm says the demand for its counsel on antitrust litigation “is exploding”, and that it has never seen a higher demand for its services overall. The team is expanding to deal with that extra work, adding partners Lisl Dunlop from Manatt Phelps & Phillips and Peter Herrick from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. The office lost four associates but brought in six new ones.

The eponymous John Harkrider and partner Russell Steinthal were lead counsel to Silver Lake Partners and Endeavor in the latter’s tie-up with Learfield. The two merging companies are among the biggest names in the college sports marketing business, and their deal received a second request from the Department of Justice’s antitrust division before securing the green light. The firm acted as lead antitrust counsel for Thermo Fisher Scientific on its $925 million purchase of Gatan from Roper Technologies and its $1.7 billion acquisition of gene therapy company Brammer Bio. Axinn worked for HIG Capital on the sale of recycled paperboard producer Caraustar Industries to Grief for $1.8 billion. Additionally, it acted for KIK Custom Products in its purchase of pool and spa chemical company NC Brands and with respect to the merger of two non-profit health insurance companies. Axinn also counselled Stanley Black & Decker in its acquisition of a 20% stake in MTD Products, which cleared the US Federal Trade Commission and Germany’s Federal Cartel Office.

Perhaps the firm’s most prominent work comes from its long-term client Google, particularly defending the internet company’s advertising business. The firm plays a key role in aiding Google with replies to regulatory inquiries from around the world. In “old economy” behavioural work, Axinn was one of the few firms to earn pre-discovery dismissal of claims against its client Friedrich Boysen GmbH in the Auto Parts litigation. The firm was also nominated for GCR Litigation of the Year for cartel defence related to a settlement its client Nishikawa Rubber Company reached with indirect purchasers. The work continues for Nishikawa in related opt-out and Canadian lawsuits.

United States: Washington, DC

Practice co-chair Michael Keeley heads the DC office of antitrust and intellectual property boutique Axinn. Keeley has seen the firm grow immensely in the 20-plus years he’s been at the firm; the DC operation now features seven partners, two counsel and 14 associates who focus solely on antitrust. This year, it added former deputy assistant attorney general Leslie Overton; former FTC attorney Steven Lavender, who helped litigate the agency’s challenge to Ottobock/Freedom Initiatives; and partner Tiffany Rider from elite firm Skadden.

Partner Rachel Adcox, who appeared on GCR’s shortlist for Litigator of the Year, is leading the defence of Tyson Foods against claims the company conspired to fix the price of broiler chicken, and in a separate follow-on matter related to pork. Adcox is also serving as lead counsel for multiple defendants in the Automotive Parts antitrust litigation. Partner Richard Dagen guided the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center through the dismissal of a private antitrust lawsuit alleging monopolisation of the market for worker’s compensation insurance. Axinn is also working for long-time client HIG Capital on several acquisitions, and is representing Momenta Pharmaceuticals in three separate antitrust matters. It is known for representing major players in the technology industry, including Google and Dell.

Axinn combines the skills, experience and dedication of the world's largest firms with the focus, responsiveness, efficiency and attention to client needs of the best boutiques. The firm was established in the late 1990s by lawyers from premier Wall Street firms with a common vision: provide the highest level of service and strategic acumen in antitrust, intellectual property and high-stakes litigation. Axinn’s lawyers have served as lead or co-lead counsel on nearly half a trillion dollars in transactions and, in the last 10 years alone, have handled more than 250 litigations.

High-stakes M&A experience

Axinn's M&A practice is led by some of the nation's most experienced and respected antitrust lawyers. The firm's track record of obtaining global clearance of combinations of significant rivals has built Axinn's reputation as a "go-to" firm for strategic mergers and acquisitions. Axinn combines its extensive experience before numerous antitrust agencies (eg, DOJ, FTC, EC, MOFCOM, CADE, JFTC, KFTC and TTFC) with its ability to develop and present sophisticated econometric arguments, in order to obtain clearance of mergers and acquisitions that at first blush seem to raise insurmountable difficulties.

High-stakes litigation experience

Axinn's antitrust litigation practice is defined by its deep experience and by the sophisticated yet practical approach it has applied to a wide variety of major cases. Its lawyers have handled all types of antitrust claims and have litigated in numerous industries, including: aerospace; automotive parts; avionics; biotechnology; cable television; chemicals; data storage; distilled spirits; earth-moving equipment; entertainment; factory automation; health care; manufacturing; pharmaceuticals; plastics; power tools; and telecommunications. 

High-stakes government investigation experience

In an aggressive enforcement landscape, a company’s choice of cartel counsel is critical. Its lawyers must not only be trusted advisors and advocates, but global strategists, skilled negotiators and experienced litigators. Axinn bring all of these skills to the table. Its lawyers have worked on the two largest price-fixing investigations of the last decade, and have represented companies and individuals in criminal investigations by the US Department of Justice, the Canadian Competition Bureau, the European Commission and other worldwide authorities. Axinn takes an integrated approach and handles all aspects of the representation, including compliance programmes, internal investigations, government investigations, criminal proceedings and civil litigation. The firm recognises that success requires a clear understanding of its clients’ goals and values, and of the unique challenges posed by every investigation. It uses this understanding to provide real strategic options rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach.


Axinn provides trusted guidance on antitrust issues that are central to its clients’ strategic goals as well as those that arise in their daily business. In particular, the firm has deep experience advising clients on issues arising at the intersection of the antitrust and intellectual property laws, including standard-setting and FRAND issues. The firm also is often called upon to conduct internal investigations or to develop and implement antitrust compliance programmes.

Co-chairs: John Harkrider ([email protected]) and Michael Keeley ([email protected])

Unlock unlimited access to all Global Competition Review content