Competition and Antitrust Law covers laws and regulations that prohibit anti-competitive behavior (monopoly) and unfair business practices. This includes practices that hurt business, consumers, or both, or that generally violate standards of ethical behavior. This kind of law is designed to ensure that fair competition exists in an open-market economy. Competition and antitrust laws are typically based in statute or other legislation, such as the Sherman Act in the United States. These statutes are often complex in nature, with hundreds of pages of associated rules and regulations, creating unique challenges and opportunities for any lawyer.
Lawyers work in antitrust or competition law in two distinct ways. First, an attorney can use litigation tools to assist a client in prosecuting or defending an action in antitrust. A client could sue a competitor alleging unfair monopolistic or price-fixing conduct, or the suit could be an enforcement action more akin to a criminal action. This kind of litigation requires an attorney to use fundamental litigation skills (e.g., legal research and writing, factual investigation, documentary discovery, taking depositions, arguing motions in court, engaging in negotiations) to advance their client’s case. All of these skills require astute use of English to argue the case to a court or operate in negotiations to achieve the best resolution.
Legal English is a key factor in the practice of the second area of antitrust law practice. Rather than participate in an active litigation, antitrust regulations require due diligence in compliance before any merger can be completed. As such, when working in M&A, a lawyer must understand and explain the complex regulations involved to advise the parties about compliance. This is called ‘merger clearance’ and requires English levels to be very high. To work on a litigation matter or to handle a merger clearance, the attorney must often dive into the specific businesses at the heart of the matter and also become very familiar with the broader industry in which that business operates.
Solving Drafting/ Editing Problems:
- Vocabulary Training – Antitrust law requires intricate and deep knowledge of a very specialized set of vocabulary. Much as is the case with the very subject (antitrust vs. competition laws), terminology changes with the jurisdiction, and understanding the distinctions between otherwise very similar words and concepts can make a well-trained lawyer stand out amongst those that lack these skills. Antitrust/competition practice can often require a lawyer to become an expert in the businesses themselves, which are often from extremely divergent fields, so breadth of knowledge in vocabulary is essential.
- Verb Tenses – Many aspects of antitrust practice require research on what has happened (past tense) and what will happen (future tense). Getting these verb tenses correct is incredibly important when dealing with multiple entities and multiple obligations as they try to work together to avoid violating complex antitrust laws. Especially in Legal English writing, these well-known and challenging problems can make a trained attorney stand out.
- Organization Skills – Legal writing often requires lengthy and complicated discussions of very subtle subjects. While a short email to a client or associate can be drafted and sent in a few minutes, a summary of the antitrust implications of a merger requires far more detailed and complex analysis. Lawyers, both native and non-native, often struggle with keeping a document organized to a level where the reader can understand the global implications of the issues as seen through the specifics of an individual client’s needs.
Legal Writing Resources:
- http://www.ejtn.eu/PageFiles/17406/Handbook%20Linguistics%20Competition%20Law.pdf – The Language of Competition Law, EJTN, Michael S. Boyd, et al., providing background and exercises relating to the practice of antitrust/competition law.
- Legal Writing EU’s free Commercial Law Glossary – 250 of the most frequent and important words and phrases. Also used as a Twitter daily vocabulary practice tool.
- https://briefcatch.com – BriefCatch is a Word plug-in that offers editing suggestions that you can implement in real time. The program not only catches common mistakes but spots editing and advocacy opportunities that many lawyers and other writers miss.
Courses & Employers:
- https://curriculum.law.georgetown.edu/jd/antitrust-law/#text – Georgetown Law is one of the best universities in the world and this limited program in antitrust law should be considered by any law school graduate looking to focus their skills in this area. Open to any law school graduate from anywhere in the world, Georgetown retains prestige in the most competitive areas of study.
- http://www.lse.ac.uk/law/study/llm/programme-structure – In the UK, the London School of Economics offers its own LLM program in antitrust laws. This esteemed college is open to any law school graduate, even if admissions are competitive and challenging. This program is an excellent offering for any lawyer seeking expertise in this area of law.
- http://www.gibsondunn.com – #1 Ranked American Law Firm for antitrust/competition law.
- https://www.freshfields.com/en-gb/what-we-do/services/antitrust-competition-trade – #1 Ranked UK/European Law Firm for antitrust/competition law.
Social Media Groups:
- https://www.linkedin.com/company/35463743 – American Bar Association – Antitrust Group
- https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/antitrust-law-blog – Antitrust Update Law Blog
- https://www.linkedin.com/company/decoding-competition-law – Decoding Competition Law Blog
- https://twitter.com/justiceatr – U.S. DOJ Antitrust Division
- https://twitter.com/competitionlaws – Competition Laws Blog
- https://twitter.com/thechalj – China Antitrust Law Journal
- https://www.facebook.com/TheAntitrustAttorney – The Antitrust Attorney Blog
- https://www.facebook.com/events/2846930405325323 – The 2020 Antitrust Writing Awards