Competition law is an exciting and intellectually stimulating practice area, operating at the intersection of law, economics and public policy. Competition lawyers advise on a wide range of issues, from the likely impact of a mergers on the UK or EU market to a cartel investigations. The work is varied, and, as one of the areas of law that is most heavily influenced by the EU, it has a large international component.
At Bristows, the Competition team is made up of three partners, six associates, two trainees and two secretaries. Much of Bristows’ work relates to the interface between Competition and Intellectual Property law, and the Competition team often works closely with the Patent Litigation department. For example, the team frequently assists with telecommunications patent disputes where the Court is called upon to assess whether the royalty terms of a patent licence are Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (known as “FRAND” licensing). The team does a mixture of contentious and non-contentious work, and both are underpinned by an in-depth understanding of each client’s business and of the UK and EU legal backdrop.
What is it like to be a trainee in the Competition team at Bristows?
A seat in the Competition department provides an excellent opportunity for a trainee to get a wide range of experience of different kinds of legal work. The partners and associates are keen for trainees to experience all of the types of work undertaken by the department, so trainees usually do a mixture of litigation, transactional and advisory work. This means that the work is varied, and you get to work with lots of different clients during your time in the department, including many cutting-edge life sciences and tech companies.
I would also thoroughly recommend a seat in the Competition team to develop your legal research and client communication skills. Competition law is constantly changing and trainees are frequently asked to investigate recent UK and EU cases and to update the team on changes to the law. Trainees are often given the opportunity to draft advice to clients based on their research, and to write articles for Bristows’ Competition Law Blog, The CLIP Board.
As part of a close-knit team, you are given a high level of responsibility compared to other seats, which really helps your development as a lawyer. At the same time, you can always depend upon the support and advice of the partners and associates, who are keen to help you learn and are very friendly and approachable.
I really enjoyed my time in the Competition department – the team are great to work with and I gained skills that I know will be invaluable as I continue my legal career. I’d recommend that anyone who enjoys an academic challenge and has an interest in economics, politics and the EU look no further than the Competition department!