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US: Amazon, Facebook recruit from the DOJ

 |  November 27, 2018

AT&T, Facebook, and Amazon are padding their antitrust expertise by poaching from the government, reported Bloomberg. All three tech giants have recently hired top Justice Department (DOJ) Antitrust Division lawyers.

The hirings could hinder the Department’s antitrust enforcement powers at a time when large tech companies’ market dominance is coming under greater scrutiny. But adding the government’s experts to their payrolls could help the companies self-check their exposure to antitrust risk, Makan Delrahim, the DOJ’s Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, told Bloomberg Law.

The Antitrust Division, in the last three months, lost three high-ranking officials to big tech firms. Bryson Bachman, senior counsel to Delrahim, left for Amazon. AT&T scooped up Brinkley Tappan, another counsel to Delrahim. Kate Patchen, chief of the aAntitrust dDivision’s San Francisco office, is now at Facebook.

The three officials “would help minimize anticompetitive conduct” at their new employers, Delrahim told Bloomberg Law. The companies can lean on the new employees to help boost their knowledge on compliance and antitrust risks, he said.

The departures aren’t “concerning,” Delrahim said. The division continues to employ “high caliber applicants and additions.”

DOJ staff, including heads of the Antitrust Division, typically leave government posts for in-house counsel roles or go on to powerhouse antitrust firms. For example, Christine Varney, the Antitrust Division Chief from 2009 to 2011, moved onto Carvath, Swaine, and Moore, and represented Time Warner during its fight to merge with AT&T.

Still, the turnover at the DOJ in recent months is atypical, Michael Carrier, professor at Rutgers Law School who specializes in antitrust issues, told Bloomberg Law. “We don’t typically see three front office members leave in such quick succession to go to companies subject to antitrust scrutiny,” he said.

Full Content: Bloomberg
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