California Lawyers Association

CLA Celebrates Women in Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law

On March 9, 2023, a sold-out audience gathered at the Hotel Zelos for the Sixth Annual “Celebrating Women in Competition Law in California” panel presentation and networking event. The attendees spanned all age groups—from law students to young lawyers to experienced practitioners—and all sectors, including the plaintiff side, defense side, in-house, and government. The co-creators and co-chairs, Jill M. Manning* and Kate Patchen,** kicked off the event.

“Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and one of its missions is to celebrate women’s achievements and increase their visibility,” Jill said. “That is exactly what we are doing today. Although vastly underrepresented in the antitrust field, women are doing amazing work and rising to the highest levels of the profession. We are celebrating these women and their achievements today by seeing them, listening to them, and learning from them.”

The panel was moderated by United States District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, who began the discussion by describing her path to the judiciary. She was one year away from making partner at a law firm and struggled to work full-time and raise two small children. She made the difficult decision to leave her practice and partnership opportunity to work a flexible schedule as a law clerk for Judge Charles R. Breyer. After 11 years, she briefly returned to private practice and then returned to the judiciary as a Magistrate Judge and then as a District judge. It was very powerful to hear Judge Corley share her unconventional path to the judiciary, express her concern about being on the “mommy track,” and share how that decision led her career to move in a direction she never thought possible.

Two of the panelists, Bonnie Lau, a partner at Morrison & Foerster, and Leonor Davila, in-house counsel at Intel, were the first in their families to attend college. Bonnie’s mother was disappointed when she decided to go to law school, hoping that she would instead be a scientist or doctor. Leonor was inspired to attend law school by watching “Perry Mason” on television. Hearing these stories will empower women to make decisions their families may not support and demonstrate that inspiration can come from many different and unexpected places.

Panelist Lin Chan, a partner at Lieff Cabraser, explained how women can compete successfully with men for leadership positions in cases. Spoiler alert: clients and judges are a big part of the equation. Clients are demanding diverse litigation teams, and many judges consider diversity in appointing attorneys to leadership positions.

Panelist Elizabeth Jensen, trial attorney at the United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, provided tips for women who are struggling to have their voices heard. She suggested that new lawyers take ownership of a workflow and become an expert. “If you are an expert, people what to know what you have to say because you will make their lives easier.”

The discussion concluded with each panelist providing advice for young women beginning their careers in antitrust law. “Enjoy your career. Find what you enjoy and do it,” advised Lin. Leonor said, “challenge yourself and take risks.” She further advised young lawyers to find mentors both inside and outside their company, to seek balance and to protect their mental health. Elizabeth advised young lawyers “to make connections with the people you work with—these are your future colleagues, and as they grow, you will grow too.” Bonnie said, “ask for everything you want. Someone might say no. It doesn’t matter. It is worth asking.” Judge Corley concluded by advising women to be confident in court. “Coming across as confident is an important skill for advocacy because it makes judge think twice.” All great pieces of advice!

Everyone left the event feeling inspired by the incredible work women are doing in the antitrust field, where they are rising to the highest ranks at law firms, corporations, the government, and the judiciary. We are already looking forward to next year’s event, set for March 7, 2024.

The event was sponsored by CLA’s Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Section, Angeion Group, and Huntington Bank.

*Jill M. Manning is a partner at Pearson Warshaw, LLP in San Francisco. She is a trial attorney and skilled litigator who focuses her practice on recovering damages for individuals, employers, and businesses who are victims of price-fixing schemes, tying, restraints of trade, and other types of anticompetitive conduct and unfair business practices.

**Kate Patchen is a partner at Covington & Burling LLP in San Francisco. She is a leading antitrust attorney with over twenty years of experience in global antitrust and competition law. Her practice focuses on criminal antitrust and other white-collar government investigations and litigation, civil antitrust investigations and litigation, and antitrust compliance advice and training.

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