ABA Section of Antitrust Law | Chair's Message

A Message From The Chair

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Howard Feller - SAL Chair

It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve as the Chair of the ABA Section of Antitrust Law this year.  We began the year with a very productive Post-Annual Leadership Orientation in Colorado from August 12-14, 2014.  For the benefit of the Section members, I would like to outline for you my four priorities and objectives for this year. 

First, we will focus on improving the ways in which content is delivered to our members, both programs and publications.  As colleges, universities and other organizations have done, our programming can be enhanced by offering more distance learning options and making greater use of digital video capabilities.  We also need to evaluate and develop alternative means of delivering our written content, such as e-publications and an electronic library of publications, and we need to do this in a way that does not diminish the value of our hard copy publications.  I have appointed a Content Delivery and Technology Investment Task Force, which will be chaired by Svetlana Gans and Scott Martin and will study how we can improve our delivery of programs and publications.  The aim of this Task Force is to make specific recommendations to the Council regarding improvements to the Section's content delivery efforts.  This Task Force also will study ways to utilize technology to support the delivery of content and to better serve our members.

Second, our outreach efforts to increase the number of plaintiffs', government, and consumer protection lawyers who are members will continue.  The first phase of the Section's outreach efforts for plaintiffs' lawyers was led by Rich Parker and Bruce Simon.  They chaired the Section Reach Task Force during the past two years and made great strides in expanding the reach of the Section.  We have grown the number of plaintiffs' lawyers and government lawyers playing active roles in the Section, but we cannot rest there and need to do more.  In that regard, I have asked the Membership and Diversity Committee to conduct a targeted, professional campaign to increase our membership among plaintiffs', consumer protection and privacy lawyers.

Third, because of the increasing globalization of business, we will continue our outreach to foreign antitrust and consumer protection attorneys, both private and government.  An indication of the global reach of the Antitrust Section is this year's Spring Meeting where there were over 600 foreign government officials and attorneys from over 60 countries in attendance.  The Antitrust Section has a significant role to play in the international antitrust arena, so we will continue our outreach efforts in this area.

My last priority comes from a suggestion that Chris Hockett, last year's Chair of the Section, made at the end of his term.  The Section does an excellent job reporting on developments, providing analysis of issues, and submitting comments to U.S. and foreign governments on proposed statutes and regulations.  However, we do this primarily in a reactive mode.  My fourth priority is to have the Section become more proactive in "idea or thought leadership."  As leaders in the fields of antitrust and consumer protection law, we should spend more time thinking about where the law should be and what laws or enforcement activities should be changed.  We should make constructive suggestions in that regard.  For example, I have asked the Mergers & Acquisitions Committee to think about how the various premerger notification filings in different countries can be centralized and made more consistent and efficient.  I also have asked the Health Care and Pharmaceuticals Committee to consider whether there is a need for new guidelines for permissible consolidation and integration under the Affordable Care Act.  These are just a couple of examples and you probably can think of better candidates for idea leadership initiatives.

My request and challenge to you is to think about how the Section can be more of a thought leader on antitrust and consumer protection issues and practices, and make suggestions as to what we should be doing in this area.  In addition, I have asked our Committees, Task Forces and Editorial Boards to put idea leadership on the agenda of their regular monthly meetings.

Now, I would like to tell you briefly about our exciting slate of conferences this year.

  1. Antitrust Masters Course – October 9-11 in Williamsburg, VA.  Ted Voorhees and Becky Valentine have put together a fantastic conference which is aimed at rising stars in antitrust and consumer protection with 4 to 10 years of experience.  Please have lawyers from your firms, corporations and agencies sign up for this intensive, high quality program.

  2. Fall Forum – November 6 in Washington, DC.  David Wales and Jamillia Ferris are chairing this conference and have an excellent lineup of speakers and panels which will focus on recent developments, enforcement priorities and policy initiatives of the DOJ and FTC.  The FTC also is hosting a centennial dinner that same evening, followed by a special program on November 7 to commemorate its 100th anniversary.  These will be two wonderful programs so I would encourage you to block off both days in November.

  3. 100th Anniversary of the Clayton Act Symposium – December 4 in Washington, DC.  In view of the 100th anniversary of the Clayton Act this year, we will conduct a symposium which will examine key issues relating to application of the Act.  Ilene Gotts and Andrea Murino have put together an excellent and provocative Symposium, which includes several debates.  Please mark your calendars for this unique, once every 100 years, event.  Distance learning options will be available for those unable to attend in person. 

  4. Consumer Protection Conference – February 12 in Washington, DC.  Pamela Jones Harbour and Tom Zych already have developed a very creative and exciting lineup of sessions for this biannual consumer protection conference.

  5. Spring Meeting – April 15-17 in Washington, DC.  Our flagship conference, the Spring Meeting, has become a "must attend" conference for lawyers in the U.S. and throughout the world.  Sharis Pozen and Hartmut Schneider are organizing another outstanding conference.

  6. Antitrust in the Americas Conference – June 11-12 in Rio de Janeiro.  Planning is already under way for this conference under Fiona Schaeffer's leadership.  This gathering of enforcement officials, antitrust practitioners and corporate counsel will focus on competition and consumer protection developments in Latin America and Central America. 

I also want to point out what many of you know already.  The Antitrust Section is truly blessed to have, by far, the very best Staff in the entire ABA.  They are extremely professional, are excellent at what they do, understand our business and continuously add value to our members.  On top of that, they are extremely nice people to work with.  We all owe a great deal of thanks to the members of our outstanding Staff who make the Antitrust Section run like a well-oiled machine.  I also should explain that at the present time, we are understaffed and Joanne Travis is in the process of adding at least 3 more Staff members.  So, when you interact with the Staff, please be understanding that they have an extra heavy workload and may not be able to respond right away.

In closing, I want to thank all of you for your participation in the Section, for your excellent work, for your collegial spirit, and for your help and support.  It is because of you that the Antitrust Section is the premier antitrust and consumer protection organization, not just in the U.S., but in the world.  It is a pleasure for me to serve with you in this organization and I look forward to working with you this year.

Howard Feller
Chair, Section of Antitrust Law 2014-2015