the 2010 Antitrust Spring Meeting at the J.W. Marriot Hotel in Washington
DC. The JW Marriot is a beautiful, modern space. The conference
rooms are located below the hotel lobby, on floors 0, -1 and -2 on the elevator
panel. That took me a few minutes to wrap my head around. Using
negative numbers on the elevator, combined with the fact that I was in the
Nation's Capital, made me feel as like I was trying to access some sort of
top-secret Government installation.
down...floor Negative 2...Antitrust Spring Meeting and Roswell crash
my overall confusion was the fact that the conference room levels surround an
impressive three story open area, with one-way escalators and various stair
cases. Until I got a feel for the place it seemed like I was trapped in a
mobius strip or trying to traverse M.C. Escher's Ascending Staircase.
However, as my wife will gladly attest, I am a questionable navigator at best,
so it may have just been me.
Once I got
a handle on where I was going the conference itself was fascinating, with a
very international flavor. Antitrust law, like all business-oriented law in the
21st century, truly straddles the entire globe, and the discussions
were a reflection of that. Among the conferences I attended Wednesday was
Criminalization of Cartel Conduct around the World and the Limits of
Extraterritorial Cartel Enforcement. Although that may sound a little
dry, the presenters made it more than interesting, particularly Terry Calvani,
from Freshfields, Washington, DC, who actually managed to coax more than a few
laughs from the normally staid crowd, and Jarrett Arp from Gibson Dunn.
Arp, who writes for LexisNexis' quarterly Antitrust Report was hitting
cleanup and closed the show with a multi-faceted summation even though, as I
was later to discover over drinks at the Gibson Dunn cocktail event, he had
been on the road for his "day job" and was operating on far too little sleep.
day's highlight, for me, was the Ilene Knable Gotts moderated Chair's
Showcase: Nature vs. Nurture: the Role of Culture in Competition Policy.
The sheer idea of looking at culture and its effect on competition law
was fascinating; particularly the discussions of how some emerging markets that
recently moved to competition formats still face a firmly entrenched
cooperation culture. Imagine the heads of two industry leading companies
getting together to set prices without any malicious intent whatsoever, even
though such activity could mean fines and jail time, because they simply don't
know any other way to work.
sum, while all the presenters were accomplished and brilliant, any time you put
Gotts and fellow presenter Eleanor Fox together the result will be some
high-level stuff. Both women seem to equally comfortable tackling a raw
fact pattern as they do musing about deeper, more theoretical antitrust
issues. They have known each other for so long they work together
brilliantly and seamlessly: improvising within set themes, playing off of each
other like Coltrane and Dolphy at the Five Spot.