Competition law has an image which depends on who is discussing it. It can be described as the means by which economic activity is encouraged along a path of equity and consumer protection. Others might say that it inhibits freedom of decision making and the opportunities to maximise profits. Regardless of one’s view, competition law and practice have come to stay after the introduction of anti-trust laws in the USA early in the 20th Century.
Business decisions frequently revolve around issues of competition and sophisticated structures have evolved to manage the process. These structures comprise on the one hand statutory law, authorities and NGO’s with legal firms and consultancies with legal and economic expertise on the other.
All of these activities require that most important and critical asset. Human Talent. For the system to function successfully society needs the left and the right hand to have a balanced pool of talent. Now, by virtue of the training and education which lawyers and economists receive they tend not to become enthused with public interest roles. Most commonly talented professionals are drawn to public interest roles for altruistic reasons more than material rewards. However, the competition structures recognize this and in order to attract the best talent they offer rewards more-or-less in keeping with those available with consultancies and law firms.
For lawyers and economists with an interest in competition law there are distinct career benefits in gaining experience on the statutory side. It can round out private practice exposure. It can satisfy those who like the idea of public service. Of course, the roles are polar opposites in that the professional on the statutory side is responsible, ultimately, to society. The lawyer or economist when consulting is responsible to the client.
Working on the client side or the statutory side is not a question that one is more right than the other. It is up to the individual and the employer to select the talent and the position which meets their needs.
Whether a public interest career is chosen or one in a law firm or consultancy one thing is certain. If you have the Talent you will make a difference in your life and the life of others.