D.C. antitrust vet forms new law firm, leaving Paul Weiss

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  • Rule Garza Howley launches with attorneys from Paul Weiss, Covington & Burling, Debevoise & Plimpton and Johnson & Johnson
  • Specialized antitrust firm will reduce conflicts and boost efficiency, says founder Charles “Rick” Rule

(Reuters) - Charles “Rick” Rule, co-chair of the antitrust group at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and a former top antitrust prosecutor, has left the corporate and litigation law firm to establish a new antitrust firm focused on M&A and government investigations.

Joining him at newly formed, Washington D.C.-based Rule Garza Howley LLP are Deborah Garza, who was previously senior counsel at Covington & Burling and served in the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division, and Paul Weiss antitrust counsel Dan Howley.

The new firm also includes partners William Dolan, previously an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton, and former Johnson & Johnson senior counsel for competition law Margot Campbell.

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The move comes amid heightened scrutiny of mergers by the Biden Administration, which has ramped up demand for antitrust lawyers. Major firms including Jones Day; Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe; and Ropes & Gray have bulked up their antitrust practices in recent months.

Rule, who joined Paul Weiss in 2016 from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, led the Justice Department’s antitrust division under President Ronald Reagan. In private practice he advised Microsoft in its acquisitions of LinkedIn and Skype. He also represented US Airways in its 2013 merger with American Airlines and Pfizer in its $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth.

Rule and Garza said in an interview that starting a small firm dedicated to antitrust will enable them to be more flexible and efficient than at large, full-service law firms that have high overhead. It will also reduce client conflicts, they said.

"If you have a small, nimble team that's highly focused and very experienced, we're going to be in a really good position to help clients navigate these areas," Rule said.

Paul Weiss has about 900 attorneys in nine offices, according to its website. The firm's corporate chair Scott Barshay called Rule a "terrific partner" and said the firm wished him well. Representatives from Covington & Burling and Johnson & Johnson did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the other departures.

The partners at Rule Garza Howley have advised on deals with a combined $1 trillion in value and have had a hand in some of the biggest transactions to come before the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, the firm said.

(NOTE: This story was updated to include comment from Paul Weiss partner Scott Barshay.)

Read more:

Ropes & Gray expands London antitrust team with Kirkland hire

White & Case, Dechert antitrust partners jump to Orrick

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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at karen.sloan@thomsonreuters.com