Hill moves from DOJ to Bates White

25 September 2017 10:20am

Originally published on FTC:WATCH on 4 August 2017. By Kirk Victor

After more than 11 years of government service, including most recently as assistant section chief in the economic analysis group of the Justice Department's antitrust division, Nicholas Hill has joined Bates White Economic Consulting.

As to why the move to Bates White, Hill, in an interview, said that "Bates White has a reputation for doing very high-quality work," which he had seen first-hand.

"It also struck me as an entrepreneurial and nimble firm and that part of the business seemed exciting to me," he added. "I like the idea of this nimble firm that's growing and attracting new business."

Hill, who earned a PhD in economics from Johns Hopkins University, came to the firm after two stints at the Justice Department and one at the Federal Trade Commission. He first joined the DOJ's antitrust division in 2006 and remained until 2013, working as an economist, and then jumped to the FTC's Bureau of Economics for about a year and a half.

Hill then returned to the Justice Department as a manager — assistant section chief — where he remained for nearly three years, before joining Bates White.

When asked why he made the jump now, Hill said he had been working on the DOJ's challenge that blocked the Aetna-Humana merger to which he had devoted his full attention. When it ended, he wasn't working on other major matters so the timing was good and someone else didn't have to pick up a bunch of his cases.

Also, he was ready to shift gears. "Having seen a number of litigations up close and being involved in them as a manager, I was excited to potentially be the testifying expert in them rather than the support person," Hill said.

When asked what he is especially proud of, Hill noted that early in his career, he developed a tool — the Capacity Closure Model — for analyzing paper industry mergers. It helps to define markets to assess the likelihood of competitive effects and to evaluate divestitures.

Hill took pride in the fact that opposing parties used the model. "It is one of these things, you do something and you think, 'did I get this right or not?' Then you see these smart people on the other side, representing their clients come in and say, 'the framework works and we applied it and here is what we think.'"

"It's like having your work reviewed by people who are very, very skeptical of what you may be finding. For them to adopt it is nice," he noted.

As for whether economists have enough voice at the agencies, Hill said that "some lawyers want your input right from the very beginning and others are more, 'we'll wait and see,' but I think at both agencies, the economists have a voice at the table."

"When you get into court, the judge is going to be interested in the economics, and ultimately that's why inside the agencies, and also in court, there is a role for economists in antitrust matters," he said.

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