Former Antitrust Chief James Rill Honored
By Elizabeth Murphy | April 11, 2022 8:15 am

James F. Rill was a pioneer in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, leading the unit as enforcement went international and the trust-busting Sherman Act became one of the United States’ “best-selling exports,” friends and colleagues said Tuesday.

Rill, who served as Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division from 1989 to 1992, was given the Sherman Act Award on Tuesday afternoon, an honor given to those who have “substantial contributions” to protecting American consumers and preserving economic freedom.

James Rill received the Justice Department's Sherman Act Award. Also pictured: acting Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Sharis Pozen and Attorney General Eric Holder. Photo by Elizabeth Murphy/Main Justice

Attorney General Eric Holder presented the award to Rill, who hailed the division’s unwavering “non-partisan” stance and its commitment to criminal enforcement.

Holder told the crowd assembled in the Great Hall at Justice Department headquarters in Washington that Rill helped “build the Antitrust Division into the dynamic component it is today.”

“And it’s no exaggeration to say that he, his colleagues and partners they brought to the table from around the world helped to usher in a new era of global antitrust enforcement,” the attorney general said.

Rill’s career was marked by his tenacious enforcement, bringing the largest number of merger challenges in more than a decade, including to major bank and airline transactions. Rill, who is now a partner at Baker Botts LLP, negotiated a first-of-its-kind cooperation agreement between the United States and the European Union in 1991. He also issued the first joint Justice Department-Federal Trade Commission Horizontal Merger guidelines a year later.

In 1997, he was chosen by then-Attorney General Janet Reno and Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein to serve as co-chair of the department’s International Competition Policy Advisory Committee, which authored a report recommending, among other things, a global forum for international agencies to discuss antitrust issues. This suggestion later formed into the International Competition Network, which hosts more than 100 member-nations.

Douglas Melamed, former Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, said Rill “foresaw this world long before the rest of us,” noting Rill’s focus on increased globalization and its effects on competition and antitrust issues.

Melamed said Rill was the first assistant attorney general to travel to Mexico to visit his counterpart there to discuss antitrust matters. He also took several trips to Japan to during his department tenure, he said.

“The only Japanese word I knew at the time was ‘hai,’ ” Rill said. “I still don’t know that that means.”

On a more serious note, Melamed said Rill is more than his resume — “he is infused with integrity,” he said.

Outgoing acting Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Sharis Pozen, Judge Michael Boudin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and former FTC Chairman Timothy Muris were also in attendance Tuesday.


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