When Charles F. “Rick” Rule headed the Department of Justice antitrust division during the final years of the Reagan administration, at 31 he was the youngest chief of a Washington enforcement agency. His record still stands, even in the era of Lina Khan, the youthful Federal Trade Commission chair who took the helm at 32.
In the latest Drinks With The Deal podcast (guest hosted by David Hatch), Rule and his colleague Dan Howley explained the motivations behind the launch of Rule Garza Howley LLP, the newest antitrust boutique in the nation’s capital.
They also reflected on their paths to competition law.
“The bottom line is, ‘I liked to argue when I was a kid, and I was pretty good at it,’” Rule quipped. He received his law degree from the University of Chicago, a hotbed of conservative antitrust thinking at the time, with Deborah Garza, a longtime colleague and founding partner of the new firm.
Howley gravitated to physics and engineering in college but pivoted to law after deciding the legal profession would be “more fun” than lab work.
Rule has been on all sides of antitrust. The former government watchdog was lead attorney for Exxon Corp. on its $80 billion megamerger with Mobil Corp., cleared in 1999 with divestitures to create Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM). He also represented Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) on its 2001 settlement with the DOJ to resolve landmark antitrust litigation.
Now in his fifth decade in Washington, Rule prides himself on identifying top talent. He’s mentored some of the biggest names in merger law, notably Jonathan Kanter, head of the antitrust division. Rule emphasized that he sees Howley, who shared the thinking behind his decision to gamble on a law firm startup, as among the “stars of the next generation” of antitrust lawyers.
Here’s the podcast with Rick Rule and Dan Howley: