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Why Join the CLA Antitrust and UCL Section?

What is the CLA Antitrust and UCL Section?

The Antitrust and UCL Section is part of the California Lawyers Association, which is a nonprofit, voluntary bar association serving thousands of licensed attorneys throughout California. CLA has 18 Sections that cover different law practice areas, including a New Lawyers Section for attorneys in their first eight years of practice. These Sections enable CLA’s members to focus their time and energy where it is most relevant to their interests and career stage. You can learn more about CLA here.

The Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Section is one of CLA’s 18 sections.  It focuses on the practice of antitrust, competition, and trade regulation law.  The Section focuses on California’s Cartwright Act and Unfair Competition Law (UCL), as well as federal antitrust and competition law.  You can visit the Section’s website here.

The Antitrust and UCL Section has more than 1100 members both within and outside of California.  Members range in age and experience from some of the most senior members of the bar to law school students still exploring potential practice areas.  Members work in large and small law firms, companies, and government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels.  The Section has five Standing Committees — Diversity, Education, Publications, Treatise, and UCL. 

Why Should I Join?

There are many reasons a student and a young or new lawyer should join CLA’s Antitrust and UCL Section.  First, it is the preeminent lawyers’ association dedicated to California antitrust and competition law.  In addition, being a member of the Section provides you with a wide variety of opportunities.  When you join, you can:

  • Learn more about why antitrust and unfair competition are among the most exciting areas to practice in law.
  • Get to know and network with other antitrust and UCL attorneys.
  • Develop expertise in antitrust and competition law.
  • Stay on the cutting edge of the field.
  • Accumulate CLE credits.
  • Participate in fun and educational events throughout the year.
  • Help promote diversity in the practice.

You can learn more about the Section and the benefits of joining it here.

How Can I Get Involved?

There are many ways for students and young or new lawyers to get involved with the CLA’s Antitrust and UCL Section.

  • Join a Standing Committee:  The Antitrust and UCL Section has five standing committees dedicated to the Section’s mission, which is to further the knowledge of its members about antitrust, unfair competition, and trade regulation issues under California and federal laws.  The five committees are: Diversity Committee, Education Committee, Publications Committee, Treatise Committee, and UCL Committee.  One can become a formal member of a Committee or contribute to its work without formally joining.  Click here for more information about each Committee and how to apply to join one.
  • Attend Events and Programs: The Antitrust and UCL Section organizes and sponsors many programs and events.  This includes Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit opportunities, co-sponsorships of programs with other bar associations and law schools, the annual Golden State Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Institute, our annual Antitrust Lawyer of the Year award dinner, and our annual Celebrating Women in Competition Law program.  We hold many other programs and events throughout the year, and they provide opportunities to learn more about current antitrust issues and network with other attorneys, economists, and others interested in antitrust and competition law.  Click here for a calendar of the Section’s upcoming events.
  • Join the Mentorship Program:  Each year the Antitrust and UCL Section pairs experienced attorneys with new and young lawyers and law students to participate in its Mentorship Program.  This is a valuable program by which you can obtain objective advice regarding career planning, practice development, job searches, and more.  Click here for more information about the Mentorship Program.
  • Get Published:  The Antitrust and UCL Section publishes a monthly electronic newsletter – E-briefs, News and Notes – to keep members abreast of current developments in antitrust and unfair competition law.  Click here to learn how to become a contributor.  The Section also publishes Competition, a semi-annual journal that includes scholarly and practice-oriented articles relating to current issues and developments in the areas of antitrust, unfair competition, and trade regulation. Click here to learn how to submit an article.
  • Become an Expert: The Antitrust and UCL Section publishes the country’s preemiment treatise on California Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law.  Each year, dozens of lawyers work to update and revise chapters of the Treatise, which is published in January each year both in loose-leaf form and electronically.  The Treatise is a great way to learn about and develop expertise in antitrust law and the UCL, and for many the Treatise is the first step to getting involved in the Section.  Click here for more information about the Treatise.
  • Become an Inclusion & Diversity Fellow:  The Antitrust and UCL Section’s Inclusion & Diversity Fellowship program provides training, mentorship, and career opportunities for students from underrepresented groups in the legal profession, increases interest in antitrust and unfair competition law, and promotes the work of the Section.  In addition to a monetary stipend, the Fellow receives a year-long mentorship with a practicing antitrust lawyer and a summer internship in a government agency working on antitrust and unfair competition law matters. Click here for more information or to apply.

What Is Antitrust and UCL?

What is Antitrust?

Antitrust and competition laws are part of the backbone of our economy.  They ensure fair play in the economy and are fundamental to protect businesses, the marketplace, and the public, and to provide consumers with the best products and services at the lowest prices.  To ensure that companies compete on a level playing field, the antitrust laws scrutinize conduct by a single company, such as to monopolize a market.  They also govern conduct by more than one firm, such as when two more companies collude in price fixing, bid rigging, group boycotts, or dividing markets.  The antitrust laws also govern mergers and acquisitions, vertical agreements between companies (such as between manufacturers and customers), pricing behavior, and a range of other business conduct that may harm competition and, most importantly, consumers.  The globalization of business operations and markets has led to increased international antitrust regulation.  Today, a transaction or dispute can often involve the laws of multiple jurisdictions.

There is a core set of relevant statutes—most well-known among them is the Sherman Act—and over a century of case law establishing the rules.  Almost all states have their own antitrust laws, many of which track federal law.  The two relevant statutes in California are the Cartwright Act (analogous to the Sherman Act) and the Unfair Competition Law (analogous to section 5 of the FTC Act).  Much of the Section’s work focuses on these statutes.

Due to its focus on markets and prices, antitrust law often overlaps with the field of economics.  Some who practice in the field have some economics background, but many do not.  Many antitrust lawyers studied other fields prior to law school, such as English, history, or political science.  Antitrust economics can be learned on the job, and many antitrust lawyers enjoy working with economists to learn about new industries, the markets those industries operate in, and how the conduct at issue affects competition in that industry.    

Why Should I Consider Practicing Antitrust?

Most antitrust practitioners describe their field as one that is intellectually rigorous, stimulating, and impactful.  It is intellectually rigorous because antitrust cases involve learning about the competitive dynamics in particular industries and markets.  This typically includes economic analysis, which may require significant interaction with economists and industry experts.  The practice also requires a deep familiarity with case law since there are actually very few antitrust statutes that clearly explain what the law requires.  It is stimulating because each case is different and requires mastering new industries, including understanding all the ins and outs of a particular market, product, or area of competition.  Finally, it is impactful because antitrust cases directly affect the real world, the economy, and consumers.  Currently, some of the timeliest national and global debates going on right now—for example, the amount of competition in the health care and high-tech industries—involve questions about antitrust. 

For these reasons, antitrust lawyers often cite as an attractive feature of their practice their need to learn about different business industries in great detail.  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.  

Antitrust practice can be divided into three broad categories: (1) counseling; (2) litigation or investigations, and (3) mergers.

Many antitrust lawyers spend a great deal of time counseling and advising clients to keep them out of trouble under the antitrust laws.  This typically arises in the context of business relationship between companies who compete, or in the context of supplier/customer relationships.  It includes everything from providing quick answers to a client’s question (“no, you cannot agree to divide up a territory with a competitor”), to designing vertical agreements in the supply or distribution chain that will not pose antitrust risk, to navigating the intersection of antitrust and intellectual property law.

With litigations or investigations, an attorney uses the tools of a litigator to help a client either defend or prosecute antitrust violations, or to pursue or counsel a company through investigations.  Litigation matters could involve a competitor in an industry alleging unfair monopolistic or price-fixing conduct on the part of another competitor.  Or they can involve an enforcement action—brought pursuant to civil or criminal laws—in which the government alleges that a business has violated antitrust laws or regulations.  Many antitrust cases are brought as class actions on behalf of consumers who claim they were affected by anticompetitive conduct.  All these types of matters call on attorneys to use fundamental litigation skills (e.g., legal research and writing, factual investigation, documentary discovery, taking depositions, oral advocacy, engaging in negotiations, trial experience) to advance their client’s case.  A litigator might also expect to work with economic experts to help establish or defend the client’s case.

Often the experts and economists do the detailed analysis of product or geographic markets, but it is the work of the attorney to develop the facts and to present this analysis in a compelling way to the fact-finder, be it a government agency, judge or jury.  The world of antitrust law is marked by relatively few statutes and regulations; it is not an area with an enormous regulatory overlay like, for instance, environmental law.  Discovery in antitrust cases can be fascinating, covering issues related to supply chains, pricing, product development and marketing, competitive intelligence, shareholder meetings (if relevant), and emails sent in the ordinary course of business.  These suits or investigations often take many years to be resolved.

With mergers, antitrust attorneys advise their client with mergers and acquisitions, or they may work for regulatory agencies that will scrutinize such transactions.  Attorneys working for clients will file documents with the appropriate regulatory authorities regarding the merger, conduct due diligence regarding the merger to learn the relevant facts related to product and geographic market, advise on potential regulatory issues, and (if needed) negotiate an outcome that allows the merger to go through.  On the government side, attorneys will evaluate parties’ submissions and determine whether a proposed transaction may violate the antitrust laws and/or hurt competitors or consumers.  Typically, merger clearance takes place on a more accelerated timeline than litigation or investigations.

What is the UCL?

California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) prohibits people and businesses from engaging in any unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business practice, or any false, deceptive or misleading advertising.  Lawsuits can be brought by the government and by consumers or businesses that have been adversely affected by conduct that violates the statute.  The law is extremely broad, and UCL causes of action are often brought alongside antitrust allegations.  Because the law’s actual text is very short (similar to most antitrust statutes), the contours of what the UCL allows and prohibits is frequently delineated by courts.

Why Should I Consider Practicing Under the UCL?

Like antitrust, litigating UCL cases often involves deep familiarity with a particular industry, including its market structure and practices.  Practitioners must have a good grasp of the relevant case law to know what sorts of business behaviors are proscribed.  UCL practice also requires a good understanding of consumer behavior and sometimes economics.  Because the law sweeps so broadly, practitioners have a wealth of areas and industries in which to explore and specialize in.

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