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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. Starting with the United States, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for six consecutive years. Fewer than 500 partners across the entire United States have made it into the inaugural list. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.

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United States > Antitrust > Overview > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

US antitrust attorneys remained extraordinarily busy throughout 2015 and during the first half of 2016. The DOJ’s Antitrust Division and the FTC’s Bureau of Competition are currently the most aggressive they have ever been, according to many lawyers. The general perception is that investigations are taking longer than they used to, and cartel investigations on a global scale have become more widespread, with a strong focus on financial services and autoparts and a growing number of cases related to electronic components and generic drugs. In addition to the DOJ and the FTC, agencies in other jurisdictions (including a number of Asian countries such as Japan and Korea) have started pursuing more and more cases. A fairly recent trend in the US is the agencies’ stronger focus on the prosecution of individuals, which was underlined by the so-called ‘Yates Memo’, an announcement made by the US deputy attorney general, Sally Yates, that in order to be granted cooperation credit, companies had to identify all individuals involved in a given misconduct. Against the backdrop of the increasingly tense atmosphere in the market, there is a growing demand among corporate clients for compliance-related advice.

Government agencies have taken a particularly tough approach towards announced mergers, with the result that more matters end up in court. This development makes the M&A market considerably less predictable, even though overall 2015 was the biggest year so far, with a breath-taking total of $3.8 trillion spent on mergers and acquisitions. The high-profile merger between Kraft and Heinz is an example of a successful deal, while the proposed $3.5bn merger between foodservice distributors Sysco and US Foods had to be called off due to regulator concerns, and later in 2015, Electrolux saw its planned acquisition of General Electric fall through after the DOJ filed a lawsuit to block the deal.

A number of concurrent trends meant 2015 was also an extraordinarily active year in antitrust litigation. The fact that the agencies are increasingly contesting M&A deals has led to a sharp rise in merger clearance disputes and a number of pending challenges. Cartel investigations, which lead to significant follow-on civil cases, continued to feature, with financial services and pharmaceuticals two particularly hot areas due to the heavy regulatory burdens they face. The internationalization of antitrust litigation is another recurring trend, and the largest-ever cartel investigation, affecting mostly Asian manufacturers of autoparts, was a major source of work for a substantial number of firms.

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