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Brian J. Smith

Brian J. Smith is a partner in both the firm's Antitrust, Competition, and Trade Regulation and Investigations, Enforcement, and White Collar practice groups. He focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation, corporate criminal defense, domestic and international internal investigations, and antitrust counseling. 

Brian has extensive experience representing clients in government antitrust investigations and enforcement actions brought by the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, State Attorneys General, and the Federal Trade Commission. He regularly defends clients in complex commercial litigation—including antitrust class actions and multidistrict litigation—in both federal and state courts. His representations involve a wide range of competition issues, including price-fixing, bid-rigging, market/customer allocation, no-poach/no-hire agreements, monopolization, attempted monopolization, market manipulation, unfair competition, and other restraints of trade. 

Brian has conducted numerous domestic and global internal investigations for major corporations across a variety of industries. He regularly defends corporations and individuals who are subjects of federal and state grand jury subpoenas, cross-border investigations, and enforcement proceedings.

Brian also advises clients on the antitrust aspects of mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures. He has helped guide clients through U.S. merger clearance, and advises on antitrust issues related to both horizontal and vertical mergers, gun-jumping, and pre-merger due diligence and integration planning.

His practice includes counseling clients on antitrust compliance to help companies mitigate antitrust risks, including in representing both U.S. and multinational corporations in the establishment and maintenance of antitrust compliance and audit programs and regularly providing antitrust compliance training for corporate executives and employees.

Brian also advises health care clients on a variety of antitrust and competition issues, including competitor collaborations, information exchanges, and hospital and physician group acquisitions.

Brian serves as vice-chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Antitrust Section's Civil Practice & Procedure Committee.

Brian is included on the Illinois Rising Stars list for Antitrust Litigation (2021-2023) and is listed in the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America for Antitrust Law (2024). The Firm's Antitrust, Competition, and Trade Regulation practice group has been top ranked by Chambers USA for Antitrust in Illinois (2020-2022), by U.S. News - Best Lawyers®  “Best Law Firms”  First-Tier Antitrust Law (2017-2023) and as the “Cartel & Trade Regulation Law Firm of the Year in Illinois” by the international review and assessment programs of both Corporate INTL Magazine and Global Law Experts (2016). Brian is a frequent author and speaker on numerous topics relating to antitrust, including government investigations, civil litigation, and compliance issues.

Brian’s commitment to providing pro bono legal services includes representing minors in guardian ad litem proceedings and petitioners before the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission; drafting legal white papers on foreign evidentiary laws to aid a nonprofit's lobbying against human trafficking; representing a foreign national in an immigration appeal before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals; representing individuals as part of the Firm's Cyber Civil Rights Project; serving as amicus curiae in a criminal appeal before the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals; and serving as court-appointed plaintiff's counsel for prisoner § 1983 cases in the Southern District of Illinois.

Brian was a summer associate at K&L Gates in 2014. While attending Northwestern University School of Law, he served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Ann C. Williams of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and as a legal extern for the United States Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois. At Northwestern Law, Brian was an Articles Editor on the Executive Board of the Northwestern University Law Review, and was a senior law student in the Supreme Court Clinic, for which he drafted certiorari petitions and merits briefs submitted to the United States Supreme Court. Also during law school, Brian clerked for a Chicago-based litigation boutique and interned at a legal aid non-profit, Lawyers for the Creative Arts.

Prior to attending law school, Brian taught English literature and composition at a secondary school in New England.

  • Listed in the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch®  in America for Antitrust Law (2024)
  • Selected to Illinois Rising Stars list for Antitrust Litigation (2021-2023)
  • Raoul Berger Prize (awarded for best senior research paper of graduating class), Northwestern Law
  • Senior Research Honors, Northwestern Law
  • Public Service Award, Northwestern Law
  • CALI Awards (Legal Writing) (Patents)
  • American Bar Association (Antitrust Section) – Vice Chair of Civil Practice & Procedure Committee
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Maine State Bar Association
  • Chicago Volunteer Legal Services
  • Hemingway Society
  •  “The Use of Special Masters in Antitrust Multidistrict Litigation,” Antitrust Section – Civil Practice & Procedure Committee, American Bar Association, December 2023 (organizer and moderator)
  • “Discovery Nuts and Bolts: Structured Data,” Antitrust Section – Civil Practice & Procedure Committee, American Bar Association, June 2021 (panelist)
  • “Antitrust Division's Leniency Program: Basic Framework and Questioned Efficacy,” Antitrust Section, Chicago Bar Association, May 2021 (co-presenter)
  • “Department of Justice Update,” 2021 Corporate Counsel Section Annual CLE, North Carolina Bar Association, January 2021
  • “Navigating Parallel Proceeding Concerns In Complex Antitrust Multidistrict Litigation,” 2020 White Collar Practice Virtual Conference, Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, November 2020 (co-presenter)
  • Panelist, “An Investigation of Modern Love,” The Durrell School, Corfu, Greece
  • Guest Lecturer, “Hemingway’s First Thirty Years,” Dartmouth College
Additional Thought Leadership Pages
  • Co-author, “Chapter 7 – Ninth Circuit: Apple Case Leads to Additional Clarity on Section 1 Claims,” GCR US Courts Annual Review (4th ed.), 2023
  • Contributing editor, “Chapter 10 – Criminal Antitrust Enforcement,” ABA SECTION OF ANTITRUST LAW, ANTITRUST LAW DEVELOPMENTS (9th ed.), 2022 
  • Contributing editor, “Chapter 9 – Private Antitrust Suits,” ABA SECTION OF ANTITRUST LAW, ANTITRUST LAW DEVELOPMENTS (9th ed.), 2022
  • Contributing editor, “Health Care Institutions - §§ Private Antitrust Litigation and Government Antitrust Litigation,” Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts (Thomson Reuters), 2022
  • “Pre-Discovery Rule 12 Motions to Strike: Testing Antitrust Class Allegations at the Pleading Stage,” Perspectives in Antitrust, 21 August 2020
  • Co-author, “U.S. Courts Annual Review, Ninth Circuit,” Global Competition Review, 2020-2022 
  • "Mitigating Antitrust Risks With DOJ-FTC Pandemic Guidance," Law360, 31 March 2020
Additional News & Event Pages
  • Quoted, “Pierre Cardin, Licensee May Have Breached Competition Law, Says EU Regulator,” The Fashion Law, 31 July 2023
  • Mentioned, “T-Mobile Drops Bid To Pause Private Merger Suit,” Law360, 13 December 2022
  • Mentioned, “CALIFORNIA: Parties Seek to Modify Sealing Procedures,” Class Action Prospector, 16 January 2023
  • Mentioned, "DOJ Drops Criminal Price-Fixing Case Against Chicken Cos.," Law360, 15 September 2022
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