A Passion for Antitrust: Daniel Francis JSD ’20 focuses on competition law and the constitutional underpinnings of regulation

Daniel Francis JSD ’20 came to antitrust law largely by accident. In 2007, as an LLM student at Harvard Law School, he attended a recruitment session during his first trip to New York and ended up meeting Hunton & Williams partners Hewitt Pate, who had recently led the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, and Michael Rosenthal, who managed the firm’s Brussels office. They convinced Francis to join Hunton’s antitrust group.

Daniel Francis
Daniel Francis JSD ’20

“I decided to give it a try for a year or two, immediately fell in love with antitrust, and haven’t looked back,” Francis says. After a decade in private practice, he was appointed to serve in the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust arm—the Bureau of Competition—where his portfolio focused on enforcement and policy in high-tech and platform markets. He ultimately became deputy director, overseeing half the bureau’s merger and conduct divisions and helping to lead an array of investigations and litigations, including the FTC’s enforcement action against Facebook. Today, his scholarship and teaching focus on regulation and competition, particularly antitrust and the constitutional law of regulation.

This Fall, as a new assistant professor at NYU Law, Francis will be teaching Antitrust Law—“my dream job,” he says. “The course will be a comprehensive introduction to antitrust: the foundations of our antitrust project, the legal and economic principles at its heart, the frontiers and challenges of existing law, and the deep disagreements and hard choices that permeate the system. I really can’t wait to share that journey with a class of students.”

Most recently, Francis was a Climenko Fellow and lecturer on law at Harvard. He earned his first law degree at Trinity College, Cambridge, and entered NYU Law’s doctoral program in 2014. In addition to antitrust, his interests include aspects of constitutional law that touch on economic regulation, including federalism. His dissertation focused on the US Constitution’s commerce clause, arguing that it prohibits more state discrimination and protectionism than current doctrine suggests.

“Daniel brings incredible focus, determination and intellectual energy to everything he does,” says Florence Ellinwood Allen Professor of Law Gráinne de Búrca, who was his advisor. “I remember my first encounter with him when he sent me his research proposal for a PhD/JSD almost a decade ago, and it was already a very sophisticated and original piece of work. He has a phenomenal work ethic, plenty of ambition, and combines a real love for scholarship with a clear-eyed understanding of the world of legal practice.”

In 2021, Francis returned to NYU Law as a Furman Fellow and an Emile Noël Fellow at the Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law & Justice. “They have created what I think is the most exciting US-EU scholarly nexus anywhere in the world,” Francis says of de Búrca and Joseph Straus Professor of Law Joseph Weiler, the Jean Monnet Center’s co-directors. “Part of the joy of returning to NYU is that there’s a community here that shares my European and international interests, as well as my American ones.”

Francis says he looks forward to welcoming students into the antitrust space—particularly students who are skeptical that the field is for them. You don’t need a business background or training in economics to enter the world of antitrust, he says: “Everyone who steps into an antitrust classroom adds something distinctive to the conversation.” To make it easier for students to give antitrust a try, Francis is co-authoring an open-source casebook, to be published by the American Bar Association next year. “Antitrust has a real diversity problem,” he notes, “so when the opportunity came along to help lower some barriers to entry into the classroom, I was delighted.”

Francis adds: “I have a pretty unusual combination of interests, including antitrust, tech regulation, constitutional law, European Union law, and philosophy of law. The NYU faculty combines phenomenal strength and depth in every single one of those areas, and the NYU student body really cares about those fields, too. I can’t wait to join these conversations, and start learning from the students and faculty here.”

Posted September 8, 2022