MONOPOLIES BE DAMNED–FULL SPEED AHEAD!
Ive always loved antitrust law. It was one of my favorite courses in law school. I was a sucker for old-school progressivism. Alas, I recognized immediately that, while it would be wonderful to think about these sorts of public policy issues almost every day (even if I didn’t have a Ph.D. in economics) it would be boring–totally ho-hum–actually try to such cases, not to mention the problem of falling asleep listening to nearly incoherent fact-answers, whilst taking the fact depositions in such cases.
The times changed, however, and most of these cases never really got started. Apparently, those dreamy days are over for a while. Governments and individuals are all suing big tech companies right and left for monopolizing. The “Business” section of the New York Times headlined an article “Boom Times for Lawyers As Big Tech Faces Foes.”
Granted Cecilia Kang and David McCabe, indicate that all the jobs will land upon the largest and most prestigious law firms—those the partners of which have the greatest capacity for overcoming sleepiness. Or at least not appear to be dozing, and–above all–not snore.
At the same time, they report the extraordinary revenue to be generated for these worthies. Each of the partners will be charging hourly fees in the thousands while the fees of associates will be in the several hundred.
Look at it this way you egalitarian cynics, those kids will actually be able to pay off their huge student debt in record time, even given their Manhattan rents.
Me? I feel sorry for the lawyers in some of the government offices who will pursue the cases. They will watch the private lawyers dining on lobster, while they stick to cheeseburgers, even if they are double in size with bacon. Oh well, at least all of them below the senior partner level are working 60-70 hour work weeks. I suppose that is a kind of restricted classlessness.
Still, I think that the pursuit of these lawsuits is a good thing. It leans in the right direction when it comes to public policy. Too bad Elizabeth Warren probably couldn’t be an expert witness. Still, the plaintiff lawyers will have the pleasure of learning from and utilizing the brilliant Dick Markovits, and people like him. (Paul Krugman would also be a great witness, though for different reasons, but, in the sense required by federal rules of court, he probably would not qualify as “reliable” given his well-known political polemics.)
At the same time, I cannot help but wonder if all of these government suits are on the up-and-up. The one from Texas, for example, is paradoxical. Texas state government, for example, is spending millions recruiting the companies that are defendants to move substantial parts of their operations to Texas. One must wonder if the goal of Texas really isn’t to obtain a certain kind of settlement: Move here brothers, and we’ll drop some of our suit. (Of course, some other co-plaintiff states might have to be going along and getting some of the same benefits, though that is not implausible.) Of course, I find that idea unattractive, to say the least.
Written in the Spring of 2021. Publication forgotten. US gov suit amended in August 2021. A new post will follow.