Most Highly Regarded Firms: Illinois 2006 – Competition

Our research has uncovered a wealth of competition expertise within Illinois – 26 individuals from 14 firms.

The selected individuals counsel and litigate on behalf of an extremely diverse client base on a wide range of matters including, the laws concerning cartels, monopolisation and mergers and in many cases all three. This chapter does not exclusively deal with defence lawyers but also includes those who work on the plaintiff ’s side, whether in the context of class actions or on behalf of companies seeking redress for damages incurred as a result of anti-competitive behaviour. Given the nature of the practice area many of the listed lawyers have a truly national, and in some cases international, focus to their work. When respondents to the survey were asked which firm they most admired for competition related work three firms were never far from their lips – Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw LLP, Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Sidley Austin LLP. Our sister publication Global Competition Review’s annual survey of the world’s leading competition practices by size, the ‘GCR 100’, lists Kirkland & Ellis as seventh largest with a competition group numbering 120, 11 per cent of the firm. Kirkland is “very well regarded for antitrust work” and key competition clients include Colgate-Palmolive, BP Amoco, Sara Lee Corp and Dow Chemical. The firm has three of its number included in this chapter, led in the nominations by Robert Robertson (“highly recommended”). He served as the senior litigation counsel for the Bureau of Competition at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in Washington, DC from July 2002 to January 2004 and was highly nominated during the research. From October 2004 to January 2005 he was the FTC’s lead trial counsel in the matter of Union Oil Company of California as well as participating in other matters involving the pharmaceutical, software and cruiseline industries. During his time at Kirkland, Robertson has represented clients such as BP, General Motors, Kraft Foods and 3M. James Mutchnik was recommended as an “experienced criminal antitrust” practitioner. Before joining Kirkland he served in the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice where among other matters he prosecuted three former executives at Archer Daniels Midland Co for price fixing in the lysine market. Andrew Langan completes this triumvirate of highly nominated lawyers and comes recommended as “an excellent trial lawyer” whose practice encompasses general commercial, products liability as well as competition related cases. With three of Illinois’s most respected names, Kirkland emerges as one of the go-to firms in the state. 

Like K&E, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw LLP also makes an appearance in this year’s ‘GCR 100’ listing 37 specialists, 3 per cent of the whole firm. Key competition clients include the United States Golf Association, Dairy Queen of America, AstraZeneca and Illinois Tool Works to name but a few. Selected matters include working on Crompton’s acquisition of Great Lakes, whereas on the cartel side it worked for BASF in the vitamins litigation, the largest private cartel case ever filed. One respondent noted that Mayer Brown is “well known for representing major international corporations on a range of issues such as the defence of class actions and price fixing” and another remarked, “Mayer Brown is very much in the top tier for antitrust work”. Andrew Marovitz is “extremely well known” and one of two office practice leaders for the firm’s Chicago litigation practice. His own practice is heavily slanted toward cartel cases, many of which have international implications. The last year has seen him representing clients on a range of high-profile actions including Empagran, In re Urethane Antitrust Litigation, In re EPDM Antitrust Litigation, In re NBR Antitrust Litigation and In re Air Cargo Antitrust Litigation to name but a few. Marovitz also serves as a board member of the Coordinated Advice & Referral Program for Legal Services that provides legal assistance to those in need. The “top-notch” Lee Abrams is recognised as “one of the most experienced antitrust counsellors there is” and on the defence side he has represented clients such as General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company and the United States Golf Association. His plaintiff work included representing Bell & Howell Company against Eastman Kodak as well as Citicorp Services against Western Union. Abrams’s strong franchise and distribution practice was also noted and he has counselled numerous major franchisors such as Burger King, Taco Bell and Shell Oil. Robert Finke was also recommended to researchers for counselling and general antitrust litigation with one respondent remarking, “Finke is a very good antitrust counsellor with an excellent reputation”. Mark Mclaughlin’s inclusion in the chapter brings Mayer Brown’s contingent to four, more than any other recommended firm. McLaughlin comes highly recommended for his monopolisation work and, like Abrams, he also has a strong distribution law practice. 

Sidley Austin LLP was also consistently recommended to researchers. The “exceptionally smart” Jack Bierig is recognised as one of the leading lights and he is highly regarded for his healthcare litigation. He is also known for his work at the intersection between competition and IP. Principal clients include the American Medical Association, the College of American Pathologists and the National Association of Realtors to mention but a few. Bierig is also a lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School. Thomas Ryan heads Sidley’s commercial, competition, and securities litigation group and was praised as “a top flight litigator” as well as an “excellent antitrust counsellor”. The “first-tier” John Treece’s work for the pharmaceutical industry was noted and he is said to have “an excellent reputation” for competition and patent litigation, an area in which he has represented Kimberly-Clark, AT&T and AC Nielsen. Treece is currently representing Johnson & Johnson in a price bundling and monopolisation case in the sutures and endoscopic medical devices markets. The case concerns what types of product bundling are permissible for a market dominant firm as well as the meaning of “exclusionary conduct” when the allegations concern above-cost prices. Treece has also worked on major mergers such as AT&T/NCR and Kimberly-Clark/Scott. With three of Illinois’s leading lights it is evident that the firm has “a strong and respected practice”. 

Baker & McKenzie LLP’s Chicago competition practice was substantially bolstered by the August 2005 addition of Roxane Busey and Thomas Campbell from Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP. Busey is a recent past chair of the ABA’s Antitrust Section and her practice has a focus on mergers, joint ventures and strategic alliances. Her work in the healthcare sector was often noted and aside from this she has represented clients from the chemical, printing, railroad, insurance and telecommunications industries. Campbell was lauded as “an excellent litigator” and he has tried many prominent cases in the healthcare field. William Linklater was recommended to researchers as “one of the best international criminal defence lawyers” and “an outstanding trial lawyer”. Linklater is past president of the Chicago Bar Association and his white-collar crime work is internationally renowned. The research also indicates that he has a respected competition practice and he was said to be “fabulous on leniency and the representation of individuals”. Linklater’s recent matters including defending international cartel prosecutions. According to one high-profile respondent, Baker & McKenzie possesses “substantive antitrust lawyers and excellent counsellors”, and Linklater’s inclusion in this chapter highlights this. 

Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP can boast two of the chapter’s most highly nominated individuals. From 2002 to 2003 Robert Joseph served as chair of the ABA’s Antitrust Section and he was variously praised as “outstanding”, “excellent” and “a great analyst”. Joseph was involved in both the ‘Glass Containers Litigation’ and the ‘Corrugated Containers Antitrust Litigation’, which dealt with alleged price fixing, and in addition to his substantial antitrust practice he is also well known for franchising and distribution. Alan Silberman was also recommended as a “pre-eminent franchise and distribution lawyer”. Silberman serves as chair of Sonnenschein’s national antitrust, marketing practice, franchise and distribution group. Silberman represented Allstate Insurance Company in the Insurance Antitrust Litigation and is also national counsel for BASF (Knoll Pharmaceutical Company) in the Prescription Drug Antitrust Litigation and in related court actions throughout the US. 

Winston & Strawn LLP can also boast two nominees in the final chapter, Mark Mccareins and Duane Kelley. McCareins is an adjunct professor of Antitrust and Business Law at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. In the past year he has served as lead defence counsel for Smurfit Stone Container Corp in In re Linerboard Antitrust Litigation and for Marsulex Corp and Chemtrade Logistics in In re Sulphuric Acid Antitrust Litigation to name but two. McCareins also works on the plaintiff side, acting as lead counsel for Abbott Laboratories in Abbott v Baxter Healthcare. Kelley was praised as “an outstanding litigator” with a sub-speciality in the competition field. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and he served as lead trial counsel in the FTC challenge of the Evanston Nortwestern Healthcare merger with Highland Park Hospital. 

Eimer Stahl Klevorn & Solberg LLP was founded in July 2000 and focuses on complex commercial litigation and counselling. One respondent noted that the firm, “while small, is engaged almost exclusively in competition work and does high quality work for both plaintiffs and defendants – they are really unique in that respect in Illinois.” This quality shines through in the two nominees – Nathan Eimer and Andrew Klevorn – both of whom come highly recommended. Eimer was praised as “one of the practice area’s big guns” and is said to be “excellent on merger work and antitrust counselling”. Before founding the firm he was a partner at Sidley Austin LLP and since then he has continued his practice for clients including CITGO Petroleum Corporation, The Dow Chemical Company, Praxairand Citigroup to name a few. Notable matters he’s worked on include a part in the successful conclusion of the FTC’s investigation of the Union Carbide/Dow Chemical merger. Andrew Klevorn is similarly well thought of and was consistently recommended to researchers for his competition litigation expertise. With two highly rated nominees, therefore, Eimer Stahl emerges as one of the chapter’s leading firms. 

The aforementioned outfits have all seen multiple nominees in this chapter. There are, however, firms in the publication that are represented in the following pages by individual lawyers – some of the practice area’s most respected names. The “well regarded” Lee Freeman of Freeman Freeman & Salzman PC is “very well known on the plaintiff side”, according to more than one respondent and the firm built its reputation on plaintiff work for major corporations such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Sara Lee Corporation & Kraft Foods. Freeman has successfully represented major manufacturers as plaintiffs in the bulk vitamins, sorbates and carbon dioxide antitrust cases, although in recent years he has also undertaken defence work on behalf of clients such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Clear Channel Entertainment and Deutsche Bank. Michael Freed of Much Shelist Freed Denenberg Ament & Rubenstein PC comes highly recommended for his class-action plaintiff work. Praised as “a true gentleman”, Freed has served as lead and co-counsel to plaintiffs in cases such as the Brand Name Prescription Drug Antitrust Litigation, the ‘High Fructose Corn Syrup Antitrust Litigation’ as well as the ‘Infant Formula Antitrust Litigation.’ Paul Slater of Sperling & Slater was similarly praised as “an excellent plaintiff lawyer” and respondents noted his “exceptional experience” in the field. Slater is an adjunct Professor of Law at Northwestern where he teaches advanced antitrust courses. In addition to his work for plaintiffs, Slater also works on behalf of defendants. 

David Marx heads the antitrust & competition group at McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is the firm’s sole representative in this chapter. Marx was recommended as “a good smart lawyer who handles himself well” and he is said to be “very good for healthcare”. Michael Sennett of Bell Boyd & Lloyd LLC is similarly well regarded and is on the adjunct law faculty at Loyola University Chicago. Sennett chairs the firm’s antitrust and trade regulation department and he was praised for his work relating to domestic and international mergers, acquisitions as well as joint ventures. Joel Chefitz joined Howrey LLP in May 2002 from Katten Muchin Zavis Rosenman and now serves as managing partner of Howrey’s Chicago office. The firm maintains an excellent reputation for antitrust work, topping this year’s ‘GCR 100’ with key competition clients such as American Airlines, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Caterpillar, Fortune Brands and Xerox Corporation to name but a few. Sources remarked that Chefitz’s recruitment has given the firm strength on the ground in the Chicago market and among other matters he served as lead antitrust counsel for Trans World Airlines, in its US$4.2 billion sale to American Airlines. William Hannay leads the antitrust and trade regulation practice at Schiff Hardin LLP and concludes our breakdown of the major players in the Illinois market. Praised as “exceptionally sharp” he was recommended to researchers as “vastly experienced”.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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