Ilene Knable Gotts
51 West 52nd Street
New York
New York
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Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Competition

Ilene Knable Gotts is a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where she focuses on antitrust matters, particularly relating to mergers and acquisitions. Mrs Gotts is regularly recognised as one of the world’s top antitrust lawyers, including being recognised in the 2006-2016 editions of Who’s Who Legal; as one of the top five global competition lawyers, in the first-tier ranking, of Chambers USA Guide; as a “leading individual” in PLC Which Lawyer? Yearbook; and the 2016 Antitrust Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers.

How would you sum up your career to date?

An exciting and interesting adventure, during which I have learned about different industries, met wonderful people, and travelled to many places both within the United States and around the world. I have had the opportunity to be involved in an integral way in some of the most complex transactions of the day.

What has most inspired you as a practitioner?

It has been a desire to help our clients make smart decisions and to help them achieve their goals.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz’s position in the market is built on its strong reputation for corporate work. How integral is the antitrust practice to the firm’s success?

It is a strong part of the firm’s culture that we work across the various disciplines as a team on transactions and, invariably, antitrust lawyers are involved in every transaction. The antitrust practice and the seamless deal teamwork we provide to clients is very much part of the firm’s success.

What are the greatest challenges facing competition lawyers?

Advising clients from the earliest stages of a potential transaction on the timing, efforts, and risks associated with the transaction requires staying current on the law and enforcement views and practices across a wide range of jurisdictions, as well as understanding and staying abreast of other government stakeholders.

How is your firm planning to overcome these challenges?

We never stop learning and communicating, internally and externally, regarding developments and experiences with the various agencies.

What advantages does your time at the FTC’s Bureaus of Competition and Consumer Protection confer on your private practice?

My practice involves working with the antitrust agencies worldwide to get the transactions on which I am advising approved. Having been a staff attorney at one of the US agencies, I have a good understanding of the internal processes and can use that knowledge to advise our clients and to navigate the transaction through the process. Although the FTC is only one of the many agencies that I interact with, the knowledge of the FTC process has provided a basis for understanding the similarities and differences in other agencies. In addition, my time at the FTC and my continuing involvement with the agencies – both in my professional capacity representing clients in transactions and as a leader in bar associations – has allowed me to maintain good relationships with the staff and leadership within these agencies.

In what ways do you anticipate competition law will develop in the future?

Competition law developments in M&A will continue to require a deep understanding of both legal and economic theories and developments across jurisdictions. Outcomedeterminant differences among jurisdictions are often based on cultural and political differences regarding, among other things, the role and purpose of the competition laws. In today’s volatile political and economic climate, there’s no question that competition law will continue to evolve, in sometimes unpredictable ways.

What is the most memorable case that you’ve worked on?

This is the hardest question on your list. I have been fortunate and worked on many interesting and memorable cases over the last 30 years. If I had to pick one though, it was probably the AT&T/SBC merger, in which, in response to rumours a few years before its announcement, then FCC chairman Reed Hundt declared the transaction “unthinkable.” In rapidly changing markets, it is critical to assess whether, first, the market has evolved to the point where “unthinkable” deals are feasible (and vice versa); and second, you will be able to convince the agencies to view the transaction accordingly.


Who's Who Legal Competition: Lawyers

Ilene Knable Gotts is a partner in the New York City law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where she focuses on antitrust matters, particularly relating to mergers and acquisitions. Recent transactions in which Mrs Gotts advised include CenturyLink/Level 3, Danone/WhiteWave Foods, Gaming and Leisure Properties/Pinnacle Entertainment, Faiveley/Wabtec, Charter/Time Warner Cable/Bright House, JM Smucker's/Big Heart Pet Brands, Publicis/Sapient, Essilor/PPG Industries, Deutsche Telekom/MetroPCS, ConAgra/Ralcorp, PPG Industries/Georgia Gulf, Aetna/Coventry and International Paper/Temple-Inland. Mrs Gotts is regularly recognised as one of the world’s top antitrust lawyers, including being recognised as one of the top five global competition lawyers in the 2006–2017 editions of Who’s Who Legal, in the first tier ranking of Chambers USA Guide, the “leading individuals” ranking of PLC Which Lawyer? Yearbook, and the Antitrust Lawyer of the Year for 2016 by Best Lawyers, and Top Lawyer of the Year for 2017 by Cablefax.

Mrs Gotts previously worked as a staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission’s bureaus of competition and consumer protection. Mrs Gotts serves on the American Bar Association's board of governors and is an officer of the IBA's competition committee. From 2009–2010, she served as the Chair of the American Bar Association’s section of antitrust law. In 2006­–2007, Mrs Gotts was the chair of the New York State Bar Association’s antitrust section, which recognised her service to the antitrust bar with the Lifland Service Award in 2010; she has been a member of the American Law Institute for over 20 years. Mrs Gotts is a frequent guest speaker, has had approximately 200 articles published on antitrust-related topics, and served as the editor of the ABA’s Merger Review Process book, Law Business Research’s Private Competition Enforcement Review (2008­–2017 Editions) and Law Business Research’s Merger Control Review (2010­–2016 Editions). She is a member of the editorial board of The Antitrust Counselor, Antitrust Report, and Competition Law International publications. Mrs Gotts is a member of the Lincoln Center Counsel’s council.  Mrs Gotts was named by the BTI Consulting Group as a BTI Client Service All-Star for her level of dedication and commitment to exceptional client service.

WWL says: Thought leader Ilene Knable Gotts is one of the most highly respected antitrust practitioners in the USA, with a superb record on transactional matters across her 35-year career.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Competition which can be purchased from our Shop.

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