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Freshfields Adds More U.S. Firepower with DOJ Antitrust Lawyer

July 22, 2020, 11:31 AM

London-founded Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is expanding yet again in the U.S., adding former Justice Department antitrust lawyer Julie Elmer as a partner in Washington.

Elmer is the latest in a recent series of high-profile moves by the firm. Freshfields has been making good on growth plans in the U.S., which kicked into high gear last fall following the addition of a four-lawyer group from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton that included mergers and acquisitions rainmaker Ethan Klingsberg.

Earlier this month, Freshfields opened an office in Silicon Valley, hiring five California lawyers in total from Big Law competitors Davis Polk & Wardwell, Latham & Watkins, Sidley Austin, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. The firm recently also added former Willkie Farr & Gallagher business and corporate litigation practice group chair Mary Eaton in New York as the co-head of Freshfields’ new securities and shareholder litigation practice.

Elmer joined the DOJ’s antitrust division in 2015 as a trial attorney in its technology and financial services section. In 2017 she led the Division’s successful trial victory blocking Energy Solutions Inc.'s merger with Waste Control Specialists and more recently led the trial team in the DOJ’s challenge to Sabre’s acquisition of Farelogix. She played significant roles on trial teams in its cases involving AT&T, Time Warner, and United Continental Holdings Inc.

Elmer, a former partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, said she enjoyed her time in government, but missed the client relationships she developed in private practice. Freshfields, with its global footprint, commitment to expansion in the U.S. and familiar faces, was the best fit.

“I felt it was a time for me to grow in a different direction and I wanted to do that by rejoining some of my former DOJ colleagues at a firm that had a truly outstanding global platform,” she said in an interview with Bloomberg Law.

Building the Team

Elmer is reuniting with her former DOJ colleagues, including Eric Mahr, the former director of litigation at the antitrust division who joined Freshfields in early 2018 as co-chair of its global antitrust litigation group, and Andy Ewalt, a former trial attorney at the antitrust division who also joined Freshfields in late 2018.

“I think she’s really one of the best trial lawyers at DOJ,” said Mahr, who worked alongside Elmer in the Energy Solutions case.

Mahr spent 16 years at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr before joining the antitrust division in 2015.

Freshfields has a top global antitrust practice and U.S. antitrust merger practice led by partner Paul Yde, but hadn’t enjoyed the same level of success with its U.S. antitrust litigation practice, Mahr said. Rather than return to WilmerHale, Mahr said he joined Freshfields “with the express job of developing an antitrust litigation practice in the U.S. from the ground up.”

Elmer’s addition will deepen the firm’s U.S. antitrust litigation bench, which recently defeated the Federal Trade Commission’s attempt to block Evonik Industries’ acquisition of PeroxyChem. Her hire will allow the firm to handle more litigation matters and bring increased authority when dealing with matters like agency merger reviews.

“A firm with litigation credibility has the ability to help its clients achieve greater success in negotiating with antitrust enforcers,” Elmer said. It also provides insight for antitrust risk assessment in the boardroom, which dovetails with the firm’s recent growth in its M&A practice in New York and Silicon Valley, she said.

Mahr said that the firm remains in growth mode and that antitrust will continue to be on the leading edge, noting that he expects the antitrust practice to grow in its new Silicon Valley office.

“Everything is moving in a very positive direction, even in a difficult time,” Mahr said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com;

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