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April 22, 2024 Top Legal News of the Week

ABA antitrust law meeting features key enforcers

The Spring Meeting of the American Bar Association Antitrust Law Section, known as the super bowl of ABA conferences for its robust agenda and attendance, recorded its largest gathering in 72 years during a three-day event that ended April 12 in Washington, D.C.

The ABA Antitrust Law Section drew over 4,000 attendees from 66 countries to its recent Spring Conference in Washington.

The ABA Antitrust Law Section drew over 4,000 attendees from 66 countries to its recent Spring Conference in Washington.

American Bar Association photo

The meeting drew 4,169 attendees, with 29% coming internationally from 66 countries. A global group of regulators, including representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, were among government officials, private attorneys, in-house corporate counsel, academics, judges, economists and businesspeople to participate in dozens of programs on competition and privacy.

Antitrust enforcement has become a major weapon of governments to counter expansions and consolidations across many business sectors that threaten competition. In the U.S. this year alone, antitrust enforcement cases involving Google and Meta could have a major impact on the tech landscape and shape the legacies of top Biden administration regulators.

At the conference’s signature “Enforcers’ Roundtable,” Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division explained that antitrust enforcement is driven by both the law and the desire to help an array of U.S. business owners and others control their own “destiny.”

“What I've seen and what I've witnessed is that as concentration of power emerges, that opportunity — the opportunity to have control over your own life … starts to wither away,” Kanter said. “And I came to a realization throughout my career that antitrust should be a part of the solution to the problem. And that's certainly what led me to where I am today.”

Federal Trade Commission Chairperson Lina Khan described her agency’s work as based on following the law, being faithful to commercial realities and engaging with the public. By understanding the public’s “pain point,” she said the FTC wants “to make sure that we're making the biggest impact and affecting the biggest pain points for the American people.”

This year’s Spring Meeting also featured ABA President Mary Smith, who participated in an artificial intelligence panel, and ABA Executive Director Alpha Brady, who delivered welcoming remarks at a luncheon spotlighting “women at the top.”

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