In a dynamic M&A landscape, learn about recent regulatory changes from the DOJ and FTC and best practices for deploying technology and strategic workflows for antitrust matters such as Second Requests.

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September 7, 2023
Case Study

Lighthouse Key Document Identification Proves Pivotal to Antitrust Defense

Lighthouse leveraged linguistic expertise and cutting-edge analytics to efficiently locate only the documents that mattered in a complicated, year-long antitrust criminal investigation and trial. What They Needed Senior executives from a global food manufacturing company faced federal criminal antitrust charges related to allegations of 15 instances of price fixing over a five-year period. A joint defense team comprised of outside counsel representing each of the executives was assembled by the company. The prosecution expected to make rolling productions of evidence up to and through the trial. As those productions rolled in, the joint defense team could tell that many of the evidentiary documents, timelines, and conversations that were key to the prosecution’s case were taken out of context or failed to include all the exculpatory evidence. However, the joint defense team was having trouble finding key evidence because much of the nuance was located within piecemeal chat conversations and complex bid spreadsheets that were buried among millions of similar documents. The joint defense team needed a document search team that was nimble and could quickly identify the most important documents to the defense and share them across the team. They came to Lighthouse because we could quickly identify key documents with accuracy and nuance. How We Did It Lighthouse first organized a central search desk, where all members of the joint defense team could go for document search requests, with results shared across three defense teams. Next, the Lighthouse team located the most important documents related to each of the 15 episodes of price-fixing allegations, on a priority basis. They used linguistic expertise to create narrow searches, taking into consideration the nuance of acronyms, slang, and terminology used within the company and the food manufacturing industry. They also leveraged Lighthouse’s proprietary, cutting-edge search analytic tools to look for key information buried in hundreds of thousands of Excel spreadsheets and chat messages. As the government produced more documents, the Lighthouse team refreshed their searches, looking for key documents in each new production and quickly sharing results across the defense team. As defense preparations continued throughout the year, we we supported all aspects of trial preparation, including two mock trials, all witness preparation binders, and the James hearing. Lighthouse support will continue through the criminal trial for the senior executives, due to our proven success in supporting ad hoc search requests and providing results in real time. The Results The Lighthouse team efficiently delivered incredibly accurate results, saving the underlying client more than $3M thus far. Out of an always-in-flux review population that eventually grew to over 16M documents, Lighthouse was able to cull through the irrelevant data to find and deliver only the most important documents for the defense team’s utilization. In the end, that amounted to less than 1% of the initial review population, including: 4.7K documents for the joint defense group to defend the episodes of alleged price fixing 5.3K documents for defense team’s specific ad hoc and witness kit requests (an average of 400 documents per witness kit) In comparison, a traditional linear review using search terms and conventional analytics performed by multiple case teams typically results in 5-20% of the data population being tagged as “key documents.” This volume would then be funneled to the case teams for review as well, where they would waste valuable time and resources looking at hundreds of thousands of irrelevant or run-of-the-business documents. In addition to cost-efficiency, the team has gained expertise in the key events, timelines, and context of conversations buried within the data. As such, the team is now a critical resource to the defense, supporting all stages of the investigation and assisting in pivot ad hoc requests. Examples include finding a unique pricing document buried among volumes of near duplicates, as well as the relevant context surrounding a single line of a chat message. In the end, Lighthouse saved the underlying company significant time and money that could not have been achieved otherwise. Additionally, our expertise in the data was a critical resource to the joint defense team, which relied on Lighthouse at each step of trial preparation. Lighthouse expert support will continue throughout the criminal trial. ‍ Corporate Case Studyantitrust; ai-and-analytics; ediscovery-reviewantitrust, ai-and-analytics-ediscovery-review, kdi, key document identification
February 1, 2023
Case Study

Global Law Firm Partners with Lighthouse to Save Millions During Government Investigation

Lighthouse partners with a global law firm to meet a 60-day production deadline for an 11.5 million-document population, saving the firm millions. What They Needed A global law firm was representing a large analytics company being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for antitrust activity. The company faced an extremely aggressive production deadline—approximately 60 days to collect, review, and produce responsive documents from an initial data population of roughly 11.5M. How We Did It The firm partnered with Lighthouse to create a workflow to execute multiple work streams simultaneously (collections, processing, TAR, privilege review, and logging) to ensure the company could meet the production deadline. Lighthouse expert teams managed the entire process, implementing daily standup calls and facilitating communication between all stakeholders to ensure that each workflow was executed correctly and on time. Lighthouse clients that leverage our AI technology to its full potential can realize even more cost savings and efficiency. For example, in this case, this global law firm would have seen the removal of close to 420K documents from privilege review that our AI accurately (as verified in the qc process) deemed to be highly unlikely or unlikely to be privilege. The Lighthouse team also provided strategic and defensible review methods to attack data volume and increase overall efficiency throughout the project. This included Technology Assisted Review (TAR) and email thread suppression in combination with our proprietary AI-technology and privilege log application. The different work streams that Lighthouse designed and executed to reduce the time, burden, and expense of review included: Lighthouse Forensic Collection : Lighthouse’s dedicated expert forensic team implemented a workflow to perform all initial collections, as well as all refresh collections across M365 mailboxes, Teams data, OneDrive, and SharePoint. TAR 1.0 : Lighthouse implemented predictive coding via a TAR 1.0 workflow to systematically find and remove non-relevant documents in a defensible manner. Not relevant documents that fell below the cutoff score were removed from the review population to reduce privilege review. Non-TAR Review : A detailed file analysis was conducted on documents that could not be scored via the TAR model by Lighthouse experts to remove non-responsive documents from eyes-on responsiveness review. Email Threading : Once TAR 1.0 reached stability and a cutoff score was achieved, Lighthouse applied email thread suppression on the documents above the cutoff score to further decrease privilege review and the production set overall. Managing Teams data : The Lighthouse team leveraged our proprietary chat tool to deduplicate Microsoft Teams data. Using the tool, the team stitched Teams messages back together in a format that allowed outside counsel to easily see the conversation in totality (e.g., who was part of the thread, who entered/left the chat room, who said what, at what time, etc.). The tool then integrated and threaded chat messages with search and filtering capabilities for review directly in Relativity. Privilege Review : Even as collections, TAR 1.0, email threading, and document review workflows were ongoing, the Lighthouse advanced analytics team leveraged technology in combination with their expertise to drastically reduce the privilege review set and guard against inadvertent production of privileged documents: Lighthouse Strategic Privilege Reduction : Lighthouse data reduction experts worked with outside counsel to analyze the data to identify large categories of documents that could be safely removed from privilege review, such as two large tranches of calendar items that were pulled into the privilege review. Lighthouse also ran a separate header-only privilege screen across and located a pattern in the privilege hits, which outside counsel confirmed were not privileged and removed from privilege review. AI-enabled Privilege QC : To minimize risk and increase efficiency of privilege review, Lighthouse deployed our advanced AI-technology, which uses multiple algorithms to analyze the text and metadata of documents, enabling highly accurate privilege predictions. First, it analyzed the entire review workspace and identified additional privileged documents that were not picked up by the conventional privileged screen approach. Then, the tool was utilized in privilege review QC workflows where it helped reviewers overturn first and second level privilege calls. Privilege logging application : Lighthouse also leveraged our privilege logging application to automate privilege log generation, saving outside counsel significant time and driving consistent work product in creating their privilege log. The Results Lighthouse forensic collection collected roughly 11.5M documents from more than 600 unique datasets and over 90 custodians, spanning M365 mailboxes, Teams data, OneDrive, and SharePoint sources. Lighthouse’s TAR 1.0 workflow then dramatically reduced the document population for privilege review, ultimately removing over 6M documents in full families from review, thereby delivering a savings of nearly $6.2M. The Lighthouse team’s detailed file analysis of non-TAR universe resulted in an additional 640K files removed from responsiveness review—encompassing close to a 90% reduction in the non-TAR review volume and delivering a savings of roughly $640K. Our email thread suppression process then removed another 1.1M documents from review (for a savings of $1.1M), while the Lighthouse proprietary chat tool removed over 63K Teams items and generated over 200K coherent transcript families from 1.3M individual messages. Law Firm Case Studycase-study; antitrust; ediscovery; tar; tar-predictive-coding; law-firm; hsr-second-requests; investigations; mergers; ai-and-analytics; ai-big-data; artificial-intelligence; ai; acquisitions; analytics; predictive-coding; prism; privilege; privilege-review; name-normalization; microsoft; emerging-data-sources; forensics; collectionsediscovery-review; ai-and-analytics; antitrust; chat-and-collaboration-data; client-successCase-Study, client-success, Antitrust, eDiscovery, TAR, TAR-Predictive-Coding, Law-Firm, HSR-Second-Requests, investigations, Mergers, ai-and-analytics, AI-Big-Data, artificial-intelligence, AI, Acquisitions, analytics, predictive-coding, Prism, privilege, privilege-review, name-normalization, microsoft, Emerging-Data-Sources, digital forensics, collections, ediscovery-review, ai-and-analytics, antitrust, chat-and-collaboration-data
April 1, 2023
Case Study

Saving Millions in a Demanding HSR Second Request

AI & Analytics
Cleary Gottlieb and Lighthouse save millions of dollars and thousands of hours in HSRs Second Request for Fortune 500 company. What They Needed A global Fortune 500 electronics company received an HSR Second Request from the Department of Justice (DOJ), with an extremely aggressive timeline to reach substantial compliance. They engaged Cleary Gottlieb (“Cleary”), a global technology-savvy and innovative law firm with extensive experience handling challenging Second Requests. After Cleary led negotiations with the DOJ to reduce the scope of the investigation, the client was faced with 3.3M documents to review—a significant subset of which included CJK language documents that would require expensive and time-consuming translation. To further complicate matters, the DOJ and Cleary remained engaged in ongoing scope negotiations, resulting in additional data being added throughout the project. Cleary knew that conventional TAR technology was not capable of evaluating a dataset with ever-changing review parameters. How Cleary and Lighthouse Did It CJ Mahoney, counsel and head of the eDiscovery and litigation technology group at Cleary, has extensive experience working on complex HSR Second Requests and has pioneered a number of different analytics-driven methods to reach substantial compliance in the past. Based on prior joint success in innovating new ways to use this technology to improve privilege analytics, CJ immediately saw the potential of Lighthouse’s proprietary AI technology for this challenge. Together, CJ and the Lighthouse data scientists developed a unique training workflow to achieve highly precise responsive prediction results on this challenging dataset. CJ secured the DOJ’s first-ever approval of this workflow with Lighthouse’s proprietary AI technology. Immediately after approval, responsive and privilege analysis and review began simultaneously, enabled by AI technology. For responsiveness, the teams utilized an active learning TAR workflow wherein subject matter experts reviewed a control set of randomly selected documents. After only a few training rounds, the system reached stability and began scoring the remaining dataset for responsiveness. A privilege classifier was built based on 20K previously confirmed privilege calls and applied to score all documents in the privilege workspace. The teams used a combination of the analytic results and privilege terms to identify potential privileged documents. All documents within this set that were scored as “highly likely to be privileged” were immediately routed to reviewers for review and privilege logging. Conversely, documents scored as “unlikely to be privileged” were removed from privilege review after Cleary’s attorneys verified the accuracy of the results using a random sample. Further, the teams used the privilege classifier to identify additional privilege documents that had not hit on privilege terms. As the timeline for substantial compliance approached, negotiations with DOJ regarding relevant timeframes and custodians continued, resulting in the near-constant addition and removal of documents from the dataset. The Lighthouse and Cleary teams managed the ever-changing dataset with ease using the Lighthouse technology and workflow developed by the teams. The Results Using a specialized TAR workflow leveraging advanced AI, the teams delivered highly accurate responsive classification, resulting in more than 500K (or more than 40%) fewer documents requiring further review and production to the DOJ, when compared to legacy TAR tools. By creating a smaller volume of documents requiring production, the amount of privilege and foreign language review was also lessened. For example, 120K fewer foreign language documents were included in the final responsive set compared to legacy TAR tool results. This reduction of review and translation saved approximately $1M alone. For the client, the smaller responsive set meant faster production turnaround times, lower overall costs, and risk mitigation through the decreased chance for inadvertent production of non-responsive documents. The Lighthouse and Cleary partnership resulted in the removal of 200K documents from privilege review beyond what could have been possible through conventional methods, leading to cost savings of $1.2M and time savings of 8K review hours. The team further mitigated risk to the client by identifying privilege documents that did not hit on standard privilege terms. The Cleary and Lighthouse partnership resulted in substantial compliance with the HSR Second Request, increased risk mitigation, faster document review, and remarkable savings for the client. Law Firm Case Studycase-study; antitrust; ediscovery; tar; tar-predictive-coding; law-firm; hsr-second-requests; investigations; mergers; ai-and-analytics; ai-big-data; artificial-intelligence; ai; acquisitions; analytics; predictive-coding; prism; privilege; privilege-review; tech-industryediscovery-review; antitrust; ai-and-analytics; client-success; lighting-the-path-to-better-ediscoveryCase-Study, client-success, Antitrust, eDiscovery, TAR, TAR-Predictive-Coding, Law-Firm, HSR-Second-Requests, investigations, Mergers, ai-and-analytics, AI-Big-Data, artificial-intelligence, AI, Acquisitions, analytics, predictive-coding, Prism, privilege, privilege-review, tech-industry, ediscovery-review, antitrust, ai-and-analytics
October 7, 2022
Case Study

Law Firm Equipped with 35 Deposition Kits, At or Before DOJ Deadlines, for Massive Antitrust Investigation

Lighthouse experts distilled crucial information from millions of produced documents for a client's legal strategy during a Department of Justice investigation. Key Actions Lighthouse created 35 deposition kits by conducting two large-scale data investigations—and addressing multiple ad-hoc emergency investigations in the process—on an initial production set of six million documents, identifying the 4,100 most relevant items. Lighthouse adhered to a complex delivery schedule so the case team had time to prepare for each deposition. ‍ Key Results Counsel was well-prepared for 35 depositions using the deposition kits delivered by Lighthouse. Instead of spending time and review cycles finding they evidence, they used the bandwidth they saved to hone their legal strategy. ‍ Responding to a Fast-Moving Government Investigation, with a Merger on the Line When two of the largest publishing companies in the country entered a merger deal, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reacted with a large anti-trust investigation. Pursuant to an HSR Second Request, the companies produced a combined six million documents to the DOJ. In response, the DOJ sought to depose 35 individuals within a few months’ time. This left outside counsel with just two months to prepare for the defense of a massive potential merger, including intensive preparation for all 35 depositions. To do so, they knew they would need to find every shred of relevant information hidden within those six million documents—as quickly as possible. Executing a Plan for Better Legal Strategy When the law firm reached out to Lighthouse for help, our agile search team of analytic, legal, and linguistic experts immediately got to work, consulting with counsel to understand the specifics of the investigation, as well as the case team’s initial strategy for response. Using this background, the Lighthouse team mapped out a information search plan leveraging advanced volume reduction technologies and linguistic search models, delivering: Comprehensive deposition kits for all 35 deponents. Each kit was scheduled to be delivered well ahead of the corresponding deposition date, and included summaries of Lighthouse experts’ findings and highlights of notable documents and facts, in order to give counsel adequate time to prepare for each deposition. Key and relevant documents related to the DOJ’s anti-trust concerns and outside counsel’s defense strategies. These documents, provided on a rolling timeline, were uncovered by conducting two large scale data investigations: one to find all documents related to determining which publishers participated in or won the auctions, and another to find all documents necessary to facilitate the creation of an all-encompassing book auction timeline. Given the legal and analytic expertise of our specialists, Lighthouse search results often uncovered new areas of importance for the case team. When the case team responded to this new information with urgent follow-up search requests (with results sometimes needed in 24 – 48 hours), our team also boosted efforts to provide the requested information. Powering Counsel with Knowledge—and Time By partnering with Lighthouse, the case team stayed focused on preparing for depositions and crafting a response to the DOJ’s concerns to the merger, instead of conducting database searches and reviewing irrelevant or redundant documents. In just two months, Lighthouse found and delivered the 4,100 documents the case team needed, out of an initial population of six million documents. This included creation and delivery of 35 deposition preparation kits, all documents related to the case team’s strategy for responding to the DOJ’s antitrust concerns (delivered on a rolling basis), and results of six ad hoc case team investigation requests. All deposition kit and derivative search deliveries met or exceeded counsel’s delivery deadline expectations. Law Firm Case Studycase-study; document-review; ediscovery; fact-finding; kdi; key-document-identification; law-firm; hsr-second-requests; investigations; mergers; acquisitionsediscovery-review; ai-and-analytics; antitrust; client-successCase-Study, client-success, document-review, eDiscovery, fact-finding, KDI, key-document-identification, Law-Firm, HSR-Second-Requests, investigations, Mergers, Acquisitions, ediscovery-review, ai-and-analytics, antitrust
February 1, 2023
Case Study

Finding the Keys to a Strategic Defense in a Second Request

Lighthouse proprietary, technology-enabled strategy for finding key documents gives counsel a strategic advantage in a challenging HSR Second Request. Key Results In just three weeks, the Lighthouse team found the 1K most important documents out of an initial data population of 19M documents. Lighthouse experts began flowing key documents to the case team just three days after the initial kickoff meeting. Lighthouse saved counsel at least a month’s worth of preparation time for witness interviews and defense planning by efficiently finding the most important documents. A Mountain of Data and a Short Timeline A global technology company and their two outside counsel teams needed to quickly prepare a winning defense in a high-stakes, time-sensitive, Department of Justice (DOJ) Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Second Request. To do so, they would have to identify and review all potentially damaging (or alternatively, helpful) documents within an initial data population of 19M documents. Finding the most important documents within that massive data volume—in less than one month—presented a Herculean task. A Proprietary Solution for Finding the Most Important Documents Lighthouse’s technology-enabled search strategy is led by information retrieval experts with decades of industry experience, who utilize robust search technologies that support large data volumes beyond industry-standard tools. Together, this combination of cutting-edge technology and data expertise quickly surfaces critical documents, streamlining legal analysis and case preparation for case teams. Handing Over the Keys to a Strategic Defense With no time to lose, Lighthouse TAR and review experts were able to whittle down the 19M documents to just over 990K responsive documents for production to meet substantial compliance. Simultaneously, Lighthouse experts quickly got to work finding the most important documents for the case team. Rather than relying on keyword culling, the Lighthouse team analyzed the data population and leveraged proprietary algorithms to safely reduce the universe to documents that contained the unique content the case team needed. From there, a team of six data retrieval experts leveraged proprietary search technology and institutional knowledge of the client’s data, gleaned from working with the company in a managed services capacity, to find key documents that were critical to the case team. Our experts used an iterative process and had weekly meetings with the case team so that they could instantly integrate counsel and witness feedback throughout the project, which helped yield more accurate search results. With this process, the Lighthouse team began flowing key documents to the case team just three days after the initial kickoff meeting. Over the course of the next three weeks, the Lighthouse team provided a total 1K key documents (out of a 990K responsive documents) in eight rolling deliveries. By gaining immediate access to these documents and eliminating the need for time-consuming and costly manual review, Lighthouse saved the team at least a month’s worth of preparation time for witness interviews and defense preparation. Law Firm Case Studyantitrust; case-study; document-review; ediscovery; fact-finding; kdi; key-document-identification; tar; tar-predictive-coding; law-firm; hsr-second-requests; investigations; mergers; acquisitionsediscovery-review; ai-and-analytics; antitrust; client-successAntitrust, Case-Study, document-review, eDiscovery, fact-finding, KDI, key-document-identification, TAR, TAR-Predictive-Coding, Law-Firm, HSR-Second-Requests, investigations, Mergers, Acquisitions, ediscovery-review, ai-and-analytics, antitrust
April 5, 2024

Emerging Trends in Second Requests

September 15, 2021

TAR + Advanced AI: The Future Is Now

AI & Analytics
June 16, 2022

eDiscovery Advancements Meet the Unique Challenges of Second Requests

November 1, 2021

2021 HSR Second Request Trends Report

September 29, 2023

What You Need to Know About the New FTC and DOJ HSR Changes

Brian Rafkin, counsel in Akin‚Äôs antitrust and competition practice, joins to examine the HSR rules and share advice for utilizing AI and workflows to manage increased scrutiny., <iframe height="200px" width="100%" frameborder="no" scrolling="no" seamless src=""></iframe> ‚Äç Continuing a more aggressive posture toward corporate mergers, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission recently announced new HSR rules that dramatically change and expand the amount and type of information that needs to be submitted with HSR filings. How will this impact future M&A activity and Second Requests? Brian Rafkin , counsel in Akin‚Äôs antitrust and competition practice, joins the podcast to examine the new HSR rules and their potential implications. He also shares best practices for utilizing technology and workflows to manage increased scrutiny and pressure on deals.  This episode‚Äôs sighing of radical brilliance: ‚Äú United States takes on Google in biggest tech monopoly trial of 21st century ,‚Äù Dara Kerr, NPR, September 12, 2023. Learn more about the show and our speakers on , rate us wherever you get your podcasts, and join in the conversation on LinkedIn and Twitter . , antitrust; ai-and-analytics, antitrust, AI, analytics, HSR, antitrust, FTC, DOJ, M&A, ai-and-analytics; antitrust; artificial-intelligence; biden-administration; document-review; hsr-second-requests; mergers; regulation
March 31, 2022

Closing the Deal: Deploying the Right AI Tool for HSR Second Requests

Gina Willis of Lighthouse joins the podcast to explore some of the modern challenges of HSR Second Requests and how a combination of expertise and AI technology can lead to faster and better results., Bill Mariano and Rob Hellewell kick off this episode with another segment of Sightings of Radical Brilliance, where they discuss JPMorgan becoming the first bank to have a presence in the metaverse. Next, our hosts chat with Gina Willis , Analytics Consultant at Lighthouse, about how the right AI tool and expertise can help with HSR Second Requests. They also dive into the following key questions: What are some of the contemporary challenges with Second Requests? What AI tools are helping with some of these modern challenges? For Second Requests, what interaction and feedback between attorneys and AI algorithms is optimal to ensure substantial compliance is reached efficiently? Are there some best practices for improving this relationship‚Äîdeploying the AI better or optimizing algorithms? Our co-hosts wrap up the episode with a few key takeaways. If you enjoyed the show, learn more about our speakers and subscribe on the podcast homepage , rate us wherever you get your podcasts, and join in the conversation on Twitter .  Related Links : Blog post: Deploying Modern Analytics for Today‚Äôs Critical Data Challenges in eDiscovery Blog post: Biden Administration Executive Order on Promoting Competition: What Does it Mean and How to Prepare Article: JPMorgan bets metaverse is a $1 trillion yearly opportunity as it becomes first bank to open in virtual world , ai-and-analytics; antitrust; practical-applications-of-ai-in-ediscovery, ai/big data, tar/predictive coding, hsr second requests, podcast, acquisitions, mergers, ai-and-analytics, antitrust, ai-big-data; tar-predictive-coding; hsr-second-requests; podcast; acquisitions; mergers
September 22, 2020

Facilitating a Smooth and Successful Large Review Project with Advanced Analytics

Large dataset projects are being addressed with the broadening use of advanced analytics. However, this is introducing another level of complexity into what is already a complicated and potentially st,   Law & Candor co-hosts  Bill Mariano and  Rob Hellewell kick things off with Sightings of Radical Brilliance, in which they discuss how  law firms are managing the hurdles of remote work , specifically comprehensive security measures, and driving efficiency.  In this episode, Bill and Rob are joined by  Adam Strayer of Paul Weiss. The three discuss facilitating successful large review projects with advanced analytics and other tools via the following questions: Why has there been an increase in the use of advanced analytics on larger matters across the industry? What are some of the key tools and strategies that drive the most value? What are the most effective and efficient workflows regarding advanced analytics? How does one combine the expertise and talents from each team involved (client, counsel, and service provider(s)) in an organized manner? In conclusion, our co-hosts end the episode with key takeaways. If you enjoyed the show, subscribe here , rate us on Apple and Stitcher, join in the conversation on  Twitter , and discover more about our speakers and the show  here . Related Links Podcast Episode:  New Efficiency Gains in TAR 2.0 and CMML Revealed Case Study:  Drug Store Giant Sees Significant Data Reduction , ai-and-analytics; antitrust, analytics, ai/big data, hsr second requests, podcast, ai-and-analytics, antitrust, analytics; ai-big-data; hsr-second-requests; podcast
October 3, 2023

Law & Candor Season 12: Five Views of Innovation and Risk Impacting AI, eDiscovery, and Legal

AI, generative AI, antitrust, second requests, HSR, eDiscovery, review, information governance, healthcare, legal operations, law firm, corporate counsel ai-and-analytics; compliance; corporate; corporate-legal-ops; data-analytics; healthcare; healthcare-litigation; innovative-technology; innovation; information-governance; law-firm; mergers; modern-data; phi; pii; podcast; self-service, spectra; regulation; production mitch montoya In a year of unprecedented advancement in AI capabilities and economic uncertainty, legal teams and attorneys have been given both a compelling look into what the future of their work may look like and a sharp picture of today’s challenges. With a critical eye on how to manage and capitalize on these dueling perspectives that define legal’s current landscape, the guests on the new season of Law & Candor offer insights on a range of issues, including generative AI, new M&A guidelines and HSR rules, collaboration data, strategic partnerships, and the future of the industry. Listen for news, AI and technology updates, and best practices from leaders confronting these challenges and charting new paths forward. Episode 1: The Power of Three: Maximizing Success with Law Firms, Corporate Counsel, and Legal Technology Episode 2: What You Need to Know About the New FTC and DOJ HSR Changes Episode 3: Why Your eDiscovery Program and Technology Need Scalability Episode 4: Generative AI and Healthcare: A New Legal Landscape Episode 5: The Great Link Debate and the Future of Cloud Collaboration To keep up with news and updates on the podcast, follow Lighthouse on LinkedIn and Twitter . And check out previous episodes of Law & Candor at For questions regarding this podcast and its content, please reach out to us at
April 28, 2021

Biden’s First 100 Days: A New Regulatory Forecast

What the administration’s early actions can spell for dynamic changes in regulation and compliance.On day one of his administration, President Biden got off to a bold start by signing more than a dozen executive orders on subjects ranging from student loans to deportation — including a freeze on all regulatory actions in process under the prior administration.In the subsequent 99 days, more orders, executive appointments, nominations, and legislative activities have contributed to a notable thaw in the regulatory sphere as the administration strives to fulfill the policy-driven promises made during the campaign. A recent Corporate Compliance Insights article suggests that companies “should look to bolster their compliance infrastructure ahead of this imminent wave of regulation,” an activity that legal departments would surely applaud.Although the full impact of activities from the first 100 days may not play out for some time, the combination of COVID-19 fallout and the actions of the new administration — especially the appointments of some agency leaders — is already beginning to change business, legal, and compliance dynamics. Many companies are already facing increased litigation and fraud investigations as a result of the pandemic with the expectation that incidents will rise; the potential for increased regulatory actions from agencies energized by new leadership will only intensify the need for a corporate response.Energized regulatory agencies with a consumer protection focus A more robust regulatory environment is expected under the Biden administration, especially for financial and monetary systems, with a greater focus on consumer protection. With Gary Gensler heading up the SEC, there will likely be an emphasis implementing regulatory measures or approaches to broaden the retail investor focus. The Federal Reserve Board will resume examination activities for all banks after previously announcing a reduced focus on exam activity in light of the coronavirus response. And, with Janet Yellen at the helm of the Treasury, there will likely be stepped-up enforcement and investigatory activities on several fronts, including a shoring up of the Dodd-Frank act, which was relaxed under the prior administration, and implementation of the Corporate Transparency Act to expose and combat money-laundering, which Yellen has said is “one of her highest priorities.”Rohit Chopra, awaiting confirmation as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is also expected to play a role in increasing regulatory actions, reversing the prior administration’s more lax oversight and enforcement policies. Already, analysts say, bank examinations, student lending, subprime auto loans, debt collection, mortgage services, and payday loans are expected to come under renewed scrutiny.The M&A landscape is in flux, impacted substantially by the pandemic but now gaining renewed momentum. Due to COVID-19 and its impact on the economy, the DOJ and FTC have been on alert for antitrust violations. According to at least one major law firm’s assessment, there is likely to be increased antitrust enforcement by the DOJ in several key industries over the next several years including tech, health care, and agriculture as well as increased merger enforcement that will lead to more second requests and potential for litigation.Also affecting M&A activity is a possible increase in the capital gains tax that could spur even more activity ahead of its passage. The pending confirmation of Lina Kahn as a commissioner of the FTC marks the probability of greater investigative efforts to potentially break up the expanding reach of Big Tech. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple will be the most likely targets, but expanded investigations related to M&A in other industries are also probable. The healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, whose activities stand out in high relief due to the pandemic, are sure to face more scrutiny in terms of both monopoly pricing issues and market concentration, which Biden says he will aggressively tackle.The 100-day message? Be proactive and be prepared. One thing seems certain: the regulatory landscape will continue to be dynamic. The first 100 days is, after all, just the beginning. Increasing litigation and investigations, second requests, and the due diligence and regulatory reporting necessitated by just the few probable changes suggested above threaten to impact the workload of most corporate legal and compliance departments, which may already be overburdened and understaffed.The possibility of such activity is best met with well-prepared legal and compliance functions and a laser focus on corporate data, with the appropriate tools to manage it. Any proactive steps taken to ensure that the appropriate workflows are in place should stand companies in good stead, accelerating any necessary response and mitigating the costly effects of poorly handled document productions. Companies with teams at the ready to meet these data-heavy challenges will be in a much better position to respond quickly and efficiently should the need arise.antitrustblog, regulation, biden-administration, antitrustblog; regulation; biden-administrationlighthouse
April 7, 2022

Unlocking Key HSR Second Request Data

The landscape for Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) filings has undergone immense flux over the last two years. The economic upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic and regulatory shifts of a new presidential administration have impacted both the volume of large merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions and the scrutiny they receive from regulatory agencies. This makes it hard for businesses and law firms to know what to expect from upcoming M&As, including the likelihood of receiving a Second Request and how regulators will handle that investigation.Data on recent Second Requests can help by giving parties at least a general sense of what their peers are experiencing. Official numbers for 2021 won’t be published until autumn of this year — but we can look at past trends to try to predict those numbers to a reasonable degree.A close reading of historical data and current context suggests something of a paradox: The number of Second Requests in 2021 was likely fairly high but, at the same time, may have represented a historically small share of the year’s HSR filings. This is due to the extraordinary surge in HSR transactions and other factors, which are summarized below. For a full analysis, see our 2021 Second Request Trends Report.HSR filings plummet and rebound amid pandemic In 2020, the economic lockdown and business hesitancy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic brought HSR filings to their lowest total in 7 years. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) reported 1,673 filings for the year, of which 48 resulted in Second Requests. While this is less than the 61 Second Requests issued in 2019, it reflects the same annual percentage. That rate of 3% is slightly higher than the rates in both 2017 and 2018, which landed between 2 and 2.5%.Then, the economy surged in late 2020 and early 2021, bringing HSR filings with it. Preliminary data from federal agencies show HSR filings in 2021 more than doubled from the year before, reaching 3,644.Second Requests in 2021 likely resembled 2020 Most likely, the number of Second Requests in 2021 was close to the total in 2020. However, that means the percentage rate of Second Requests versus total HSR filings likely dropped significantly, by half or more.This is because maintaining the 3% rate from 2019-2020 seems unattainable. At that rate, agencies would have to investigate more than 100 proposed M&As — far beyond anything we’ve seen in the last 20 years.It’s also far too many for the FTC and DOJ to manage, given their recent struggles with capacity. Since December 2020, both agencies have made multiple budget requests and policy changes to help them keep up with the volume of transactions and workload associated with them. For example, FTC officials have publicly called for more time to review filings, saying the traditional review period of 30 days hasn’t, “kept pace with the increased volume and complexity of transactions and their related data and documents.”A more realistic rate for 2021, therefore, is somewhere between 1 and 2%. That would produce around 50 Second Requests — a total consistent with last year, as well as the average annual number over the last 20 years.HSR is more complex for everyone While HSR filings have clearly bounced back from their dip in 2020, the overall Second Request landscape is marked by complexity and uncertainty. Officials continue to make and seek revisions to regulations, making the terms of engagement a moving target. The soaring data volumes and diverse data sources cited by the FTC pose challenges for companies as well, who may find it increasingly difficult and expensive to meet HSR deadlines and other requirements.This was evident in a recent survey conducted by Lighthouse of more than 100 experts from corporations and law firms, who selected the following challenges as top of mind during the Second Request process:Getting the data in and processed quicklyEnsuring the deal goes throughProducing quicklyChoosing the right technologyThese responses underscore the need for parties to accurately read the landscape and leverage outside tools and expertise to improve speed and efficiency.For a deeper dive into the Second Request landscape, including insights from experienced attorneys in the field, a detailed primer on regulatory changes, and what to expect in the current year, check out our 2021 Second Request Trends Report.antitrusthsr-second-requests, blog, acquisitions, mergers, antitrusthsr-second-requests; blog; acquisitions; mergerslighthouse
July 9, 2019

Finding the Needles Faster – Speeding up the Second Request Process

Facing a second request can be painful, kind of like searching for a needle in a haystack exacerbated by a strict deadline looming above it all. And, as volumes of data continue to grow and types of data become increasingly complex, these matters are often inefficient and costly, while getting to the key documents (needles) quickly can feel like an insurmountable challenge.In the 2019 Antitrust Leadership Panel, I gathered together a group of top antitrust experts to discuss the grueling challenges, the role of technology and emerging trends, and a few concrete recommendations for progress to make second requests more efficient and less costly. The video series of the panel was very well received and I have since been asked by several viewers, “So, Bill, how do I apply these ideas to my current antitrust practice or process? How do I find the needles in the haystack?”In this blog, I will answer just that and distill the key takeaways from the panel to share with your team so that you can be better equipped to tackle a second request and find the critical needle in that giant, ever-evolving haystack of data.Lesson 1: Technology is a must, but so is trust.Our expert panelists all agreed that although the usage of technology can be challenging to negotiate with the DOJ and the FTC, its application is paramount in getting to key documents quickly. With that in mind, the first phase in preparing for your next second request and conquering the haystack of data is to leverage technology. Here are some simple steps to get you started:It’s critical to understand what technology is out there and what it can do (i.e. AI, predictive coding, email threading, deduplication, etc.). Ensure you and your team stay on top of what each of these tools does and how you can leverage them in second requests. Understanding and educating yourself on all aspects of the technology is key to increasing the government’s trust and acceptance of new tools they may not be familiar with…more on that in the next step.Once you understand what technology options are available and have the best probability for success in your specific case, select the tool or tools that make the most sense for your team and secure them (i.e. by leveraging your vendor’s tools or procuring them in house). Work with your vendor or in-house team to develop sound evidence that will persuade the DOJ and FTC to accept technology so that it can be more broadly used and leveraged within your matters. This will allow you to save significant time and money and, who knows, if we all did it the DOJ and FTC may be more likely to accept itLesson 2: Proportionality can save you time and money, leverage it.The panel also discussed that although the DOJ and FTC sometimes don’t seem to make proportionality a priority in second requests and may intentionally request broader swaths of data to buy more time outside of the strict statutory guidelines, it’s clear that proportionality should be a primary focus for both parties to limit the burdensome amount of data that must be collected and reviewed. Consider this next set of steps as another way to potentially save time and money when trying to dig through the haystack of second request data.When faced with a second request, first discuss amongst your team what arguments for proportionality can be made.Ensure your arguments for proportionality are based on compelling evidence and bring them to the DOJ and FTC at the onset of the second request.If your argument is not accepted on one matter, work with your vendor to focus on building more evidence to get the DOJ and FTC on the side of proportionality in your next matter.Lesson 3: Privilege review tools can be a privilege in the long run.According to the panelists, having better and more user-friendly privilege review tools would result in a significantly improved second request process for everyone involved. So, how do you take concrete action on that? Here are a few additional steps to improve the privilege review process and break down one of the most burdensome parts of tackling the haystack.Reach out to your vendor and ask what tools and solutions they have around privilege review.Test out their privilege tools on your next matter and provide feedback for continuous process improvement.Work with your vendor to develop customized privilege tools using advanced analytics to find privileged documents more quickly and easily.When leveraging privilege tools, be sure to track solid metrics and develop new evidence to showcase to the DOJ and FTC why they can trust the advanced technology.Share these takeaways within your team and apply the steps that make sense for your practice so that the next time you’re faced with a daunting second request and a seemingly insurmountable amount of data, you’ll be well positioned to tackle the challenge and find the right needles in the haystack from the onset.Want to discuss this topic more? Feel free to reach out to me at explore related content, click the links below:Antitrust Leadership Panel: Time and CostAntitrust Leadership Panel: The Role of TechnologyAntitrust Leadership Panel: Evolving for the Futureai-and-analytics; antitrustanalytics, hsr-second-requests, blog, ai-and-analytics, antitrustanalytics; hsr-second-requests; blogbill mariano
December 8, 2022

Challenging 3 Myths About Document Review During Second Requests

Legal teams approaching a Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Second Request may hold false assumptions about what is and isn’t possible with document review. Often these appear as necessary evils—compromises in efficiency and precision are inevitable given the unique demands of Second Requests. But, in fact, these compromises are only necessary in the context of legacy technology and tools. Using more current tools, legal teams can transcend many of these compromises and do more with document review than they thought possible.Document review during an HSR Second Request is notoriously arduous. Legal teams must review potentially millions of documents in a very short timeframe, as well as negotiate with regulators about custodians and other parameters that could change the scope of the data under review.Up until recently, legal teams’ ability to meet these demands was limited by technology. It wasn’t possible to be precise and thorough while also being extremely quick. As a result, attorneys adopted certain conventions and concessions around the timing of review steps and how much risk to accept.Technology has evolved since then. For example, tools powered by advanced artificial intelligence (AI) utilize deep learning models and big data algorithms that make review much faster, more precise, and more resilient than legacy tools. However, legacy thinking around how to prepare for Second Requests remains. Many attorneys and teams remain beholden to the constraints imposed on them by tools of the past. New review tools enable new approaches and benefits, eliminating these constraints. Here’s a look at three of the most common myths surrounding document review during Second Requests and how they’re proven false by modern review tools.Myth 1: Privilege review must come after responsive reviewThe classic approach to reviewing documents during a Second Request is to start by creating a responsive set and then review that set for privileged documents. This takes time— an extremely precious commodity during a Second Request—but these steps are unavoidable with legacy tools. The linear nature of legacy review models requires responsive review to happen first because supporting privilege review over an entire dataset simply is not a feasible task over potentially millions of records. Tools leveraging advanced AI, however, are well suited to support scalable privilege analysis with big data. Rather than save privilege review for later, legal teams can conduct privilege review simultaneously with responsive review. This puts documents in front of human reviewers sooner and shaves invaluable hours off the timeline as a whole.Myth 2: Producing privileged documents to regulators is inevitableInadvertently disclosing privilege documents to federal agencies is so common the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure give parties some latitude to do so without penalty. Even so, the risk remains of inadvertent disclosure during a Second Request that will invite additional questions and scrutiny from regulators and undermine the deal.Although advanced AI tools cannot eliminate the possibility of inadvertent disclosure, these automated solutions can vastly reduce it. In one recent Second Request, a tool using advanced AI was able to identify and withhold 200,000 privilege documents that a legacy tool had failed to catch. This spared the client from costly exposure and clawbacks.Myth 3: There’s no time to know the details of what you’re producingWith massive datasets and very little time to review, legal teams get used to producing documents without fully knowing what’s in them. This can cause surprise and pain down the line when regulators ask for clarification about information the team isn’t prepared to address.With advances in technology, teams can gain more clarity using tools that identify key documents. These tools conduct powerful searches of both text and document attributes, using complex and dynamic search strings managed by linguistic experts. Out of a million or more documents, key document identification can surface the one or two thousand that speak precisely to attorneys’ priorities, efficiently helping counsel prepare for testimony and other proceedings.What’s your Second Request strategy?Second Requests will always be intense. Advancements in eDiscovery technology prove the limits of the past don’t apply today. With technology moving beyond legacy tools, it is time for teams to move beyond legacy thinking as well.For more detail about how advancements in technology help teams meet the demands of Second Requests, download our eBook.antitrust; ediscovery-review; ai-and-analyticsreview, hsr-second-requests, blog, antitrust, ediscovery-review, ai-and-analytics,review; hsr-second-requests; blogkamika brown
July 26, 2021

Biden Administration Executive Order on Promoting Competition: What Does it Mean and How to Prepare

On July 9, 2021, President Biden signed a sweeping new Executive Order (“the Order”) with the stated goal of increasing competition in American markets. Like the recently issued Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity, the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy is meant to establish “a whole-of-government” approach to tackle an issue that is typically handled by numerous federal agencies. As such, the Order includes 72 initiatives touching more than a dozen federal agencies and numerous industries, including healthcare, transportation, agriculture, internet service providers, technology, beer and wine manufacturing, and banking and consumer finance.Notably, the Order calls on the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “vigorously” enforce antitrust laws and “reaffirms” the government’s authority to challenge past transactions that may have been in violation of antitrust laws and regulations (even if they were not challenged by previous Administrations). The remainder of this blog will broadly outline the contents of the Order and conclude with a brief summary on possible ramifications for organizations undergoing merger and acquisition activity (as well as the law firms that counsel them) and how to prepare for them.What is in the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American EconomySection 1: PolicyThis section broadly outlines the benefits of “robust competition” to America’s economy and asserts the U.S policy of promoting “competition and innovation” as an answer to the rise of foreign monopolies and cartels. This section also announces the Administration’s policy of supporting “aggressive legislative reforms” to lower prescription drug prices and supports the enactment of a public health insurance option.Sec. 2: The Statutory Basis of a Whole-of-Government Competition Policy This section outlines the antitrust laws which form the Administration’s whole-of-government anti-competition policy, including the Sherman Act, the Clayton Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act, as well as fair competition and anti-monopolization laws, including Packers and Stockyards Act, Federal Alcohol Administration Act, the Bank Merger Act, and others.Sect 3: Agency Cooperation in Oversight, Investigation, and RemediesThis section outlines the Administration’s policy of cooperation between agencies on anti-competition issues, stating that when there is overlapping jurisdiction over anticompetitive conduct and mergers, the involved agencies should “endeavor to cooperate fully in the exercise of their oversight authority” to benefit from the respective expertise of the agencies and to improve Government efficiency.Section 4: The White House Competition Council This section establishes a White House Competition Council to “coordinate, promote, and advance” government efforts to address monopolies and unfair competition. The section also mandates that the Council should work across agencies to provide a coordinated response to monopolization and unfair competition and outlines the Council make up and meeting cadence.Section 5: Further Agency Responsibilities This section mandates that the heads of all agencies must “consider using their authorities” to further the anti-competition policies outlined within the Order, and “encourages” relevant positions and heads of agencies (including the Attorney General, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Secretary of Commerce, and others) to enforce existing antitrust laws “vigorously,” as well as review and consider revisions to other laws and powers, including encouragement to:Enforce the Clayton Act and other antitrust laws “fairly and vigorously.Review merger guidelines to consider whether they should be revised.Revise positions on the intersection of intellectual property and antitrust laws.Review current practices and adopt a plan for the revitalization of merger oversight under the Bank Merger Act and the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956.Consider whether to revise the Antitrust Guidance for Human Resource Professionals of October 2016.Consider curtailing the unfair use of non-compete clauses that may unfairly limit worker mobility.Consider rulemaking in other areas such as: Unfair data collection and surveillance practices that may damage competition, consumer autonomy, and consumer privacy; Unfair anticompetitive restrictions on third-party repair or self-repair of items (aimed at restrictions that prevent farmers from repairing their own equipment);Unfair anticompetitive conduct or agreements in the prescription drug industries;Unfair competition in major Internet marketplaces;Unfair occupational licensing restrictions;Unfair exclusionary practices in the brokerage or listing of real estate; andAny other unfair industry-specific practices that substantially inhibit competition.The section also calls upon the Secretary of Agriculture to address the unfair treatment of farmers and improve competition in the markets for farm products, and for the Secretary of the Treasury to assess the conditions of competition around the American markets for beer, wine, and spirits (including improving the market for smaller, independent operations).Notably, this section also calls for the Chair of the Federal Communications Commission to consider adopting “Net Neutrality” rules and other avenues to promote competition and lower prices across the telecommunications ecosystem.Finally, the section also calls for the Secretary of Transportation to protect consumers and improve competition in the aviation industry, including enhancing consumer access to airline flight information, providing consumers with more flight options at better prices, promoting rulemaking around requiring airlines to refund baggage fees, and address the failure of airlines to provide timely refunds for flight cancellations resulting from the COVID-10 pandemic.ConclusionAs a whole, the result of this Order will be that organizations undergoing mergers and acquisition activity can expect to face more scrutiny from the government – and that law firms that provide counsel for those types of transactions can expect that government investigations of those activities (like HSR Second Requests) will be more in-depth and meticulous. Accordingly, any law firms and organizations preparing for those types of investigations would do well to evaluate their eDiscovery technology now, in order to ensure that they are using the best and most up-to-date legal technology and workflows to help locate the data requested by the government more accurately and efficiently.antitrustprism, blog, antitrustprism; blog; antitrustsarah moran
August 17, 2022

A New Deal: Tackling HSR Second Requests with Key Documents

Among data challenges that businesses and their law firms face, those surrounding mergers and acquisitions are arguably some of the most daunting. Fast-paced and demanding, the high-stakes M&A process is like an amped-up litigation and investigation combined, with specific M&A data requirements, massive document productions, fact-finding imperatives, and more.To add a bit of drama, inflationary pressure and fears of a recession could cool M&A activity, while the impacts of the pandemic continue to make regulatory reaction to the M&A landscape unpredictable, especially as to whether an HSR Second Request will be in the offing. If there is Second Request, document requirements ramp up and so does heightened scrutiny from regulatory agencies, especially in light of the 2021 Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. “Providing heightened scrutiny to a broader range of relevant market realities is core to fulfilling our statutory obligations under the law.” – FTC, 2021Know as much as you can, as soon as you canIn a Second Request (as with any legal matter), the more you know and the sooner you know it, the better. Since technology assisted review (TAR), continuous active learning (CAL), and other eDiscovery technology has largely usurped a linear responsive review process, there is often less need for attorneys to review the majority of the documents that get produced to the government. This is good news for attorneys, who are faced with ever-growing data volumes that would be nearly impossible to tackle using a linear document review process, while still meeting the tight substantial compliance timeframe in a typical Second Request. However, less human review during the eDiscovery process elevates the need for counsel to find a way to uncover key information within the documents for fact development, witness kits, or expert support.From a data standpoint, what fact-finding can be done early using human expertise, technology, and a specific search workflow? The sophisticated analytics tools available today make any number of assessments possible, even before data is collected. Basic data characteristics gleaned from metadata can reveal important information: email domains, recipients, BCCs, timestamps—such metadata is fodder for data analytics tools that can reveal custodians, relationships, timelines, communications patterns and more, all necessary information in regulatory matters. Companies that have found a way to have previously-assessed characteristics live with a document (think privilege, PII, confidentiality status) are really ahead of the game.Let’s also not forget that evidence of anti-competitive behavior is really what Second Requests are all about. Although there are plenty of market facts and figures to be scrutinized, communications among people who are knowledgeable about the proposed deal could tell an “interesting” story. Common words and phrases casually bandied about (“dominant player,” “sticky customers”) can be laden with meaning to regulators or attorneys, throwing up red flags for further investigation. Company data stores can thus either be a gold mine or a land mine—and it helps counsel tremendously if they have the information on hand to prepare for either circumstance. Finding key documents: a surgical strike, not a data dumpIdentifying key information requires a precise approach and assessment —it’s not something that can be accomplished with a keyword list created during a brainstorming session. Keywords can’t help much if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. Rather, finding key documents today can be an elevated process—one that is technology-enabled and executed by a nimble team that can leverage linguistic expertise, proven search algorithms and processes, and proprietary technology to quickly pinpoint and deliver a highly-curated set of documents on target topics. As key information is uncovered, further fact-finding can be curtailed or expanded. A team can adapt to any change in priorities, custodians, subjects, and/or time frames as a regulator changes the focus of the review. This reduces the amount of time counsel must spend going through documents, keeping costs in check, and providing the best ROI.Between the initial filing and receipt of a Second Request, especially when there is little doubt that the Second Request will be issued, a team executing key document identification can help kick off the fact-finding and development process with whatever data is available—before any responsiveness review has even begun.And even when no Second Request is issued, a team of experts executing key document identification can play a significant role. In support of an initial filing, they can help identify 4(c) and 4(d) documents that are required as part of the disclosure and get the best instance or latest version of important documents. This is especially helpful in situations where executives or others involved in the deal have massive data populations and don’t know where the relevant documents are. ConclusionIdentifying key documents is a critical part of a Second Request. If client and counsel are well-prepared—armed with the ability to leverage expertise and advanced technology to find key documents from the get-go—the most challenging hurdles can often be overcome, enabling timely compliance, and avoiding potential complications that could delay resolution—or even kill the deal. antitrust; ediscovery-reviewantitrust, ediscovery-reviewhsr-second-requests; bloglighthouse
July 27, 2022

A Dynamic HSR Landscape Spells Uncertainty for Second Requests

A Second Request for a Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) filing thrusts companies and their counsel into a high-stakes race against time, complicated by massive data volumes and strict requirements. Policy and enforcement shifts by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ), brought on by a change in presidential administrations, complicate the landscape even further.In early 2022, Lighthouse analyzed the data and recent history of Second Requests in our whitepaper, the 2021 Second Request Trends Report, to help predict activity this year and beyond.Now, as we approach the halfway point of the Biden administration’s inaugural term, it seems a pertinent time to check in on the agencies’ attitudes and actions thus far, and what they mean for mergers and acquisitions — both today and in the future. To grasp the shifts in HSR Second Requests over the past two years, Lighthouse's Bill Mariano interviewed Corey Roush, a partner at Akin Gump who leads their antitrust and competition practice, and is head of their FTC-facing consumer protection practice. Below is an excerpt from their conversation.The Biden administration has now had more than a year and a half to shape its approach to mergers and acquisitions. How do you view the landscape at this point?I see outward signs of moderate hostility towards mergers that have created general uncertainty. This owes mostly to statements by leadership at both agencies rather than unexpected actions. For the most part, we are seeing Second Requests issued when one would traditionally expect them, and we are also seeing some high-profile public transactions like Elon Musk/Twitter and PMI/Swedish Match avoiding Second Requests.What have regulatory agencies done to create this atmosphere?A handful of things, from making specific policy changes to expressing general disdain for consolidation. The discourse coming from regulators is guided largely by a July 2021 Executive Order from President Biden. Inspired by that order, FTC Chair Lina Khan told Congress that “significant consolidation has undermined open and competitive markets” so it’s her agency’s responsibility “to redouble [its] commitment to policing mergers.” That attitude was echoed by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, head of the Antitrust Division at DOJ, who said mergers “can harm downstream consumers and upstream workers at the same time that they foster coordination or exclusion in adjacent markets. Everyone loses, except extractive powerful firms in the middle.”Disdain for consolidation, at least among the largest companies, is an increasingly bipartisan posture, by the way. Last spring Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced the Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act, complaining that a small group of “woke mega-corporations control the products Americans can buy, the information Americans can receive” and so on. The legislation would help regulators “crack down on mergers and acquisitions by monopoly companies” and even “pursue the breakup of dominant, anticompetitive firms.”There’s the hostility you mentioned. What about enforcement? How are they following through on this rhetoric?Overall, by expecting companies to accommodate the agencies. You see cases where companies agree to delay consummation until three or four months after complying with a Second Request, so that agencies have more time to review. And even when companies agree to delay consummation under a timing agreement, the agencies may ask for even more time. Last year, 7-Eleven was three days away from closing an acquisition when the FTC asked for more time — and this was after the company had already given the Commission more time on four separate occasions. The company was able to close the deal as planned and without a Commission vote because it had already negotiated a consent decree approved by the FTC staff. Two Commissioners responded with a public threat stating, “The parties have closed their transaction at their own risk. The Commission will continue to investigate to determine an appropriate path forward to address the anticompetitive harm and will also continue to work with State Attorneys General.” After all that, a “new” consent order was issued that was almost identical to the one that the company had previously agreed to and was approved by the Commission on a 4-0 vote two months later.It seems like “close at your own risk” is becoming a trend now?It is. The FTC has been issuing letters since the fall of 2021 warning parties whose regulatory review periods had expired or were about to expire that the agency was continuing to investigate the transaction, so parties who decided to close on their planned date would do so at their own risk. By early 2022, the DOJ joined the fray, issuing at least one warning letter that I’m aware of. So far, though, it appears to be a red herring. First, parties have always closed with some risk of a post-closing challenge. For instance, the FTC is currently challenging Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram—deals that were consummated eight and ten years ago, respectively. Second, in the current landscape, companies have been closing despite receiving the letters, and we haven’t seen any efforts to unwind those deals. Nor have we seen many investigations actually continue. What other policy changes have altered the landscape for HSR and Second Requests?The big one in my mind affects prior approval. In July of 2021, the FTC — by a 3-2 party-line vote — adopted a new policy that requires “buyers of divested assets in Commission merger consent orders to agree to a prior approval for any future sale of the assets they acquire in divestiture orders.” This rescinds a nearly 30-year-old policy and creates real complications in the divestiture process. To state the obvious, an asset is less attractive if it comes with a restriction on its sale and a requirement that the divestiture buyer sign a consent decree with the FTC. We now see these agreements in consent orders regularly. That said, we have also seen at least one consent order that did not require the divestiture buyer to sign on. What distinguished that case from the others is unclear.What does this all mean going forward? What should parties expect from regulators?Longer reviews, with unpredictable engagement. Some deals that do not present clear competition problems are taking longer than one might traditionally expect. At the same time, we have avoided Second Requests even though, at first glance, there were competitive overlaps and/or vertical relationships. In those cases, along with competitive analysis proving the transaction wasn’t troublesome, our early engagement with the agencies appeared to be key. The uncertainty applies mostly to certain high-profile, high-scrutiny areas like tech, pharma, and agriculture. Deals outside of those areas appear to be more predictable and consistent with past scrutiny. So, will 2023 be more of the same?Most likely. Legislation like the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and Open App Markets Act have bipartisan support. Alvaro Bedoya was confirmed as the third Democrat Commissioner in May. And the antitrust agencies are working on new merger guidelines that could replace the current Horizontal Merger guideline and provide more guidance on vertical merger enforcement (the FTC rescinded the existing vertical guidelines last year). Given all this, we expect the trends of hostility and uncertainty to magnify in the near future.Hear from other experts and dive into the numbers in the 2021 Second Request Trends Report.antitrust; ediscovery-reviewediscovery-review, digital-forensics, antitrusthsr-second-requests; blog; mergersbill mariano
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