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Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is making a push into antitrust, and into the nation’s capital. Susan Creighton, a former partner who has spent the last five years at the Federal Trade Commission, announced plans to return to the firm in May. She’s the third big-name antitrust partner Wilson’s hired in the past year. Wilson also plans to open an office in Washington, D.C., later this year. The firm has an office in Reston, Va., but says it will move the 30 lawyers from there into new space inside Washington. “More and more of our major clients have major regulatory needs, whether it is in the antitrust area or the IP litigation area” or SEC work, said Wilson CEO John Roos. “The nucleus of all that is in Washington, D.C.” Roos said he doesn’t have a specific date for the move and hasn’t yet identified office space. Last September, Wilson hired Jonathan Jacobson and Charles Biggio, two partners from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Biggio had served as the acting deputy assistant attorney general for merger enforcement at the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division. “There is more and more antitrust in our client base,” Roos said. “Susan being one of the top antitrust lawyers in the country �. it made complete sense to bring her in.” In addition to serving its traditional base of technology companies, Roos said that Wilson’s new antitrust capabilities are helping bring new clients to the firm. In the last year, he said, Wilson has started doing antitrust work for The Coca-Cola Co. and American Express Co., mainly in the litigation arena, as well as Clear Channel Communications, in an advisory M&A capacity. Cooley Godward, which like Wilson used to operate out of Virginia, opened a second East Coast office in Washington last year. Creighton, who joined Wilson out of Stanford Law School after clerking for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, is known for helping spark the government’s attack on Microsoft in the 1990s. She penned the famous white paper, commissioned by Netscape Communications, that was widely seen as a blueprint for the government’s antitrust action. Other antitrust clients have included VISX Inc., Synopsys, ProComp and 3Com Corp. While Creighton said that not all of her clients exist independently today, she hoped to renew some old relationships and attract new clients to Wilson. Many firms actively courted her, she said, and she had serious discussions with six firms. Creighton said she was attracted to Wilson’s strategic vision: “The firm is ready to take its next step and to have its best-breed practices in a number of key areas, and I hope that antitrust is one of them.” Creighton noted that she’s one of several senior antitrust officials to return to private practice: Bernard Nigro, a deputy director in the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, joined Willkie Farr & Gallagher; R. Hewitt Pate, former assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice, and D. Bruce Hoffman, a deputy director in the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, joined Hunton & Williams in the last year. Carr & Ferrell of counsel Gary Reback, who worked with Creighton in her earlier days at Wilson, called her “terrifically talented.” Still, he believes that antitrust practices might be at a crossroads, arguing that the Bush administration hasn’t been as aggressive at opposing mergers. There may not be a run on antitrust lawyers right now, agreed recruiter Greg Malin, who helped facilitate Creighton’s hire at Wilson. “But the best people are at a premium.”

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