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WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Ilene Knable Gotts is considered “the best of premerger review practitioners” and “a tour de force antitrust deal lawyer”.

Questions & Answers

Ilene Knable Gotts is a partner in 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 and served on the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors from 2015–2018, having previously served as the chair of the section of antitrust law. She is a frequent author and thought leader on antitrust matters. 

Describe 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. In addition, my bar association service has been very fulfilling, and has provided me with an opportunity to collaborate with lawyers in a variety of professional settings and practice areas.

What do you enjoy most about working in the field of competition law?

It has been the opportunity to help our clients make smart decisions to achieve their goals. I enjoy the collaborative nature of this work, involving my corporate colleagues at the firm, the client’s in-house lawyers and executives, economists and lawyers at other firms throughout the world.

Will the discussion around consumer welfare and theories of competitive harm and objectives impact M&A antitrust review? 

Although during the course of my career there have been changes in the theories of competitive harm and enforcement policies, these prior changes have been evolutionary and the result of economic and industrial organisation developments rather than a major shift due to political forces. In the last couple of years, commentators across the political spectrum have asserted that failures in the current US antitrust paradigm are the cause of broad societal issues, including income inequality, low wage growth and sluggish corporate investment spending—with a few even claiming a threat to democracy. In addition, some are arguing that the antitrust laws are ill equipped to address current competitive dynamics and should be changed to focus “consumer welfare” objectives on broader policy goals. Before this year’s election, US Senate Democrats responded to these concerns by vowing “to revisit our antitrust laws to ensure that the economic freedom of all Americans—consumers, workers, and small businesses—come[s] before big corporations.” During the Biden Administration, we may see some changes, particularly those with bipartisan support. For instance, there is a bipartisan focus on the largest technology companies. It is too early to tell, however, to what extent this changing political environment will impact M&A review by the agencies, particularly given the level of close scrutiny that deals routinely received in the last four years.

Which industries do you think will be a priority for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the next few years?

The FTC is likely to continue to focus on the healthcare/pharma and high-technology sectors. Data aggregation, acquisitions involving nascent competitors, and vertical transactions, will be among the issues explored, particularly in these sectors. In addition, the impact on labour markets of both conduct and transactions will continue to be considered.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

This is the hardest question you’ve asked. I have been fortunate and have worked on many interesting and memorable cases over the past 35 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-Federal Communications Commission 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, whether you will be able to convince the regulatory agencies to view the transaction accordingly.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in competition law?

Get involved in the ABA section of antitrust law and competition bar associations. Find ways to work with other members of the bar on publications and programmes.

Thought Leaders - Competition 2021

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Ilene Knable Gotts is considered “the best of premerger review practitioners” and “a tour de force antitrust deal lawyer”.

Questions & Answers

Ilene Knable Gotts is a partner in 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 and served on the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors from 2015–2018, having previously served as the chair of the section of antitrust law. She is a frequent author and thought leader on antitrust matters. 

Describe 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. In addition, my bar association service has been very fulfilling, and has provided me with an opportunity to collaborate with lawyers in a variety of professional settings and practice areas.

What do you enjoy most about working in the field of competition law?

It has been the opportunity to help our clients make smart decisions to achieve their goals. I enjoy the collaborative nature of this work, involving my corporate colleagues at the firm, the client’s in-house lawyers and executives, economists and lawyers at other firms throughout the world.

Will the discussion around consumer welfare and theories of competitive harm and objectives impact M&A antitrust review? 

Although during the course of my career there have been changes in the theories of competitive harm and enforcement policies, these prior changes have been evolutionary and the result of economic and industrial organisation developments rather than a major shift due to political forces. In the past couple of years, commentators across the political spectrum have asserted that failures in the current US antitrust paradigm are the cause of broad societal issues, including income inequality, low wage growth and sluggish corporate investment spending – with a few even claiming a threat to democracy. In addition, some are arguing that the antitrust laws are ill-equipped to address current competitive dynamics and should be changed to focus “consumer welfare” objectives on broader policy goals. Before this year’s election, US Senate Democrats responded to these concerns by vowing “to revisit our antitrust laws to ensure that the economic freedom of all Americans – consumers, workers, and small businesses – come[s] before big corporations.” During the Biden Administration, we may see some changes, particularly those with bipartisan support. For instance, there is a bipartisan focus on the largest technology companies. It is too early to tell, however, to what extent this changing political environment will impact M&A review by the agencies, particularly given the level of close scrutiny that deals routinely received in the past four years.

Which industries do you think will be a priority for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the next few years?

The FTC is likely to continue to focus on the healthcare/pharma and high-technology sectors. Data aggregation, acquisitions involving nascent competitors, and vertical transactions, will be among the issues explored, particularly in these sectors. In addition, the impact on labour markets of both conduct and transactions will continue to be considered.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

This is the hardest question you’ve asked. I have been fortunate and have worked on many interesting and memorable cases over the past 35 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-Federal Communications Commission 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, whether you will be able to convince the regulatory agencies to view the transaction accordingly.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in competition law?

Get involved in the ABA section of antitrust law and competition bar associations. Find ways to work with other members of the bar on publications and programmes.

Global Leader

Competition 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Ilene Knable Gotts is considered “the best of premerger review practitioners” and “a tour de force antitrust deal lawyer”.  

Peers and clients say:
"Ilene is the very best competition lawyer in the market."
"She is one of the leading names in merger law."
"Ms Knable Gotts is as good a competition lawyer as they come."
"She is a true leader in US antitrust matters."
"She is a top litigator in the city, the number one really."

Biography

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 3Danone/WhiteWave FoodsGaming and Leisure Properties/Pinnacle EntertainmentFaiveley/WabtecCharter/Time Warner Cable/Bright HouseJM Smucker's/Big Heart Pet BrandsPublicis/SapientEssilor/PPG IndustriesDeutsche Telekom/MetroPCSConAgra/RalcorpPPG Industries/Georgia GulfAetna/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 CounselorAntitrust 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.

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