Bill Baer is a visiting fellow in Governance Studies. He is one of the world’s best known and respected antitrust/competition enforcers. Bill is the only person to have led antitrust enforcement at both U.S. antitrust agencies, serving as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice from 2013 to 2016, and as Director of the Bureau of Competition at the Federal Trade Commission from 1995 to 1999.
During his tenure as Assistant Attorney General, the Antitrust Division achieved unprecedented success in civil and criminal enforcement, bringing and winning more cases than at any point in its history. He also developed close working relationships with his competition enforcement colleagues around the world. In 2016 and early 2017, Bill also served as Acting Associate Attorney General, the third highest official in the Department of Justice. He oversaw the work of the Antitrust, Civil, Civil Rights, Tax, and Environment and Natural Resources Divisions and successfully led the effort to hold financial institutions accountable in the Residential Mortgage Backed Securities crisis, securing record penalties and consumer redress.
Bill worked at the Federal Trade Commission on two different occasions: from 1995-99, as Director of the Bureau of Competition; and from 1975-1980 as Attorney Advisor to the Chairman and Assistant General Counsel for Legislation and Congressional Relations. While not in public service Bill headed the highly regarded antitrust practice at Arnold & Porter, representing a broad range of companies in US and international cartel investigations, antitrust litigation, and mergers and acquisition reviews by antitrust enforcers, including the DOJ, FTC, state attorneys general, and the European Commission.
Bill was twice named by Global Competition Review as the best competition lawyer in the world; honored, in 2010 and 2012, by Best Lawyers as the best antitrust lawyer in Washington; and named by The National Law Journal as one of “The Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers.” In 2015 the Federal Trade Commission honored him with the Miles W. Kirkpatrick Lifetime Achievement Award. And in 2017 the American Antitrust Institute presented him with the Alfred E. Kahn Award for Antitrust Achievement.
Bill received his JD in 1975 from Stanford Law School, where he served as Senior Article Editor of The Stanford Law Review, and his BA in 1972 from Lawrence University, which recently awarded him its Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.
Outside of Brookings, Bill is a trustee and board officer of his alma mater, Lawrence University. He previously served on the Biden transition team for the Federal Trade Commission. In addition, he occasionally serves as a consulting expert on antitrust matters.
Areas of Expertise
- International competition law
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Cartel enforcement
- Trustee, Lawrence University
- Acting Associate Attorney General, Department of Justice, 2016-17
- Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, Department of Justice, 2013-16
- Director, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 1995-99
- Assistant General Counsel & Director of Congressional Relations, Federal Trade Commission, 1978-80
- Attorney Advisor to the Chairman, Federal Trade Commission, 1977-78
- Trial Attorney, Federal Trade Commission, 1975-77
- J.D., Stanford Law School, 1975
- B.A., Lawrence University, 1972