Vinson & Elkins has lured a pair of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius antitrust partners, Hill Wellford and Darren Tucker, to its Washington, D.C., office.
Wellford and Tucker, who both held leadership positions in Morgan Lewis’ antitrust practice, bring a combined four decades of antitrust law experience in and outside government. Wellford served in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division during the George W. Bush administration. Tucker was legal adviser at the Federal Trade Commission for about four years before joining Morgan Lewis predecessor Bingham McCutchen in 2013.
“Darren and I have had a tremendously good practice, but it has been almost exclusively what’s called a destination practice—meaning we generated our own clients,” Wellford said Feb. 2. “Vinson & Elkins offered us the opportunity to bring those over of a piece, with no conflict problems, but also be able to join with the possibility of being able to do the work that they already do with this antitrust group.”
Wellford called the decision to leave Morgan Lewis “difficult.”
“We were not looking to make a move, but when this opportunity was presented to us it was something that we explored, and the more we learned about the opportunity, the more excited we got about it,” Tucker said.
In assessing the first year of President Donald Trump’s antitrust policy, Wellford said he thought the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, was more aware of the international implications of U.S. government action than the previous administration. Wellford also said he is seeing Delrahim provide more focus on structural relief in transactions, as opposed to conduct relief or regulatory interventions in settlements.
“It’s going to be much more continuity than it is change, but there are some changes,” Wellford said. “I do expect—and Delrahim has already taken—some steps toward this, to be a bit more transparent.”
Tucker said he believes the Antitrust Division under recent administrations pursued its regulatory enforcement role too aggressively, and he believes Delrahim will continue to move the Antitrust Division toward a more tempered approach.
Wellford’s tenure at the Justice Department from 2004 to 2009 included time spent as the Antitrust Division’s chief of staff. Delrahim served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Antitrust Division from 2003 to 2005.