of legal developments and understanding business sectors is key: “It can be a very interesting and technical area in terms of research, underlying principles and analysing case law. It involves in-depth analysis of markets and businesses, gaining a detailed understanding of specific products and services, and how it all works in an economic context – so it helps to find that interesting if you want to go into this area.”
Typically, competition and regulatory work includes merger control under the Enterprise Act 2002 and the EU Merger Regulation, regulatory and court proceedings under the Competition Act 1998 and EU legislation, issues arising from sector-specific regulation, state aid, public sector and utility procurement issues, and issues relating to consumer protection law. There has been significant reform of both UK and EU competition law and practice in recent years, and further proposals are being considered. Interesting areas of development in recent times include the reform of the cartel offence giving rise to criminal liability for individuals, private competition law actions(with both the UK and EU authorities keen to encourage such suits), and significant developments being contemplated in the context of consumer protection law. When choosing her legal career path, Danica Barley was mainly attracted to the teamwork and client contact involved in being a solicitor. She is now a senior associate at Ashurst and previously trained at the firm. “I really enjoyed my training contract – it’s a great way of getting to experience different areas of law and working out which is best suited to you,” she explains. “The six-month rotational aspect of it is really valuable.” While her current work involves more substantial drafting and direct client contact than it did as a trainee, she was brought in on cases from an early stage: “The team here is great at making sure that trainees are involved on a day-to-day basis, so I got a good flavour of the work that was involved in different types of matters.” Having studied economics at university, Danica chose a practice area which overlaps with her degree subject. While she has certainly found this beneficial, she is keen to emphasise that such a background is not a prerequisite to a career in competition law. However, an enthusiasm for keeping on top
Tumultuous times Danica describes what are currently
interesting times for competition law, citing technological advances and the uncertain political climate as particular catalysts for change. “The Competition and Markets Authority – CMA – and other regulators are considering a number of different issues, including digital technological advances and innovation, which are posing interesting issues from a competition law perspective,” she observes. “And of course, depending on the economic situation going forward, Brexit may result in more merger control filings if companies are required to notify both the European Commission and the CMA – and it may also lead to parallel abuse of dominance and cartel investigations by the European and UK authorities.” Day to day, her work mainly involves advising on matters such as merger control: “I often work with clients in relation to a potential merger, including assessing whether the transaction may require notification under the different merger control regimes around the world, considering whether substantive issues are likely to arise, and assisting clients throughout the filing process,” she continues. “We are also involved in competition law investigations, where the regulator is investigating potential anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominance, as well as advising on general competition law compliance – helping businesses to ensure that they’re meeting their competition law obligations.”
For more firms that work in this practice area, please use the “Training contract regional indexes” starting on p197.
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