(Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

Peter Huston, a former assistant chief in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, is the latest addition to Baker Botts’ San Francisco office, joining the firm from Sidley Austin.

Huston will be based in Baker Botts’ San Francisco office.

“Baker Botts has really built a truly world-class international antitrust and competition practice, and they are expanding it not only worldwide, but especially here in the Bay Area,” said Huston. “It was a great opportunity for me to come over.”

He said the move was “not primarily about money,” but for the opportunity to help the Texas-based firm build out its antitrust practice on the West Coast.

Peter Huston, Baker Botts

Huston joined Sidley’s antitrust, white-collar and complex commercial litigation practices as a partner in 2015. Before that, he spent six years as a federal prosecutor supervising criminal cartel matters and civil merger matters. Earlier he spent 19 years at Latham & Watkins, including 11 years as a partner.

“Private practice offers a number of challenges that you can’t necessarily get working for the government,” Huston said of his decision to return to private practice. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a prosecutor with the antitrust division, but the kind of problems that are faced by clients, especially here in the Bay Area, go beyond those which are taken up by the antitrust division.”

During his tenure at the DOJ, Huston led the government’s criminal price-fixing prosecution of AU Optronics Corp. and the post-merger challenge of Bazaarvoice Inc.’s acquisition of PowerReviews Inc. In the AUO case, the government won guilty verdicts in 2012 against the company and two executives. The agency’s challenge to Bazaarvoice’s acquisition of a rival in the market for online ratings and reviews resulted in the company divesting all the assets it gained in the deal.

“Peter is an outstanding lawyer with over 25 years of experience in the antitrust, complex commercial, white-collar and high stakes criminal and civil litigation arena. His government and private sector experience will add tremendous value for our clients and speaks to the expansion of our Antitrust Practice and the momentum and growth we are seeing in the Bay area,” said a statement from Andrew Baker, managing partner of Baker Botts.

John Taladay, co-chair of the firm’s antitrust practice, added: “Peter is the second acclaimed antitrust partner to recently join our San Francisco office.  Together with Stuart Plunkett, who joined Baker Botts in 2016, Peter’s addition reaffirms that San Francisco is an integral part of our global antitrust solution.”

Firmwide, Baker Botts has about 50 lawyers working in its antitrust practice. Last week, the firm recruited Hogan Lovells’ outgoing Brussels managing partner Matthew Levitt, a well-known antitrust lawyer in the EU, as it gears up for a renewed expansion in London.

In the Bay Area, the Am Law 100 firm recently saw a three-lawyer intellectual property group, led by partner Harper Batts, leave to join Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton’s Silicon Valley office. Baker Botts said it now has 22 lawyers in its San Francisco office and 34 attorneys in Palo Alto.