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Google Taps Freshfields to Fight US Suit Seeking Ad Unit Breakup

Jan. 24, 2023, 10:36 PM

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has turned to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Eric Mahr to lead its defense in a lawsuit aiming to break up the company’s advertising technology business.

Mahr is a former director of litigation in the Justice Department’s antitrust division, which along with eight states sued Google on Tuesday. The company confirmed Mahr is its lead outside lawyer in the case.

He joined Freshfields as a partner in 2018 after spending nearly two years at Justice. At the law firm he represented Google in another antitrust case filed by more than a dozen US state attorneys general accusing the company of having a monopoly on the technology that underpins online advertising.

Justice filed its own antitrust action over the Mountain View, Calif.-based internet search giant’s alleged monopolization of the digital advertising market.

Freshfields and Mahr didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mahr is co-chair of the firm’s antitrust group. He previously was an antitrust partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Washington, where he represented clients including Intel Corp.

He is now a managing partner of Freshfields’ office in Washington and a member of the London-based legal giant’s global board. In recent years Freshfields has sought to grow its US practice offerings, including expanding its antitrust expertise.

In 2019, Freshfields recruited former Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton corporate partner Ethan Klinsberg, who advised Google in 2014 on the $2.9 billion sale of its Motorola Mobility unit to Lenovo Group Ltd.

Cleary, Williams & Connolly, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati—a longtime legal adviser to Google—have also handled antitrust matters for the company.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com