March 15, 2017 Articles

Advising Companies as an In-House Antitrust and Competition Lawyer

An interview between a former chief of staff and senior counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, and Accenture’s director of competition law and former Antitrust Division trial attorney.

By Creighton Macy and Matthew Bester – March 15, 2017

Creighton Macy, former chief of staff and senior counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, recently sat down with Matthew Bester, Accenture’s director of competition law and former Antitrust Division trial attorney. Macy interviewed Bester on his experience leading Accenture’s antitrust efforts as well as his transition from the Antitrust Division to overseeing the antitrust and competition efforts at a global corporation.

Macy: Due to Accenture’s global reach across more than 100 countries and large number of business units, you advise a diverse group of executives. When an executive calls with a question, what are your keys for providing efficient and effective advice?

Bester: There are numerous important factors in being responsive to internal client needs, but three stand out as worth mentioning here.

First, with respect to compliance issues, you need to be able to explain somewhat complex, and sometimes jargon-laden, legal concepts in ordinary English to nonlawyers. This is especially true for people who are not native English speakers. That requires thinking ahead of time about delivering concise messages and clear advice. I have found that explaining context as to why I need information or explaining why a business strategy is risky goes a long way, particularly when I plan to conclude the discussion by suggesting (or requiring) an alteration of what the business originally intended. 

Second, to state the obvious, you must meet the deadlines that your internal clients set for receiving your advice. Your ability to deliver clear advice on time may impact your company’s success.

Third, understanding and explaining to your clients that you do not have all the answers—but that you know how to get them. For instance, your clients should not expect you to know the merger control filing thresholds in every country in which their business unit (or the company) operates. But you do need to know how to get that information to them in short order. That means having external counsel whom you trust and who know your business.

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