Drew Foster developed an interest for antitrust law at Michigan, particularly the similarities and even more striking differences between U.S. antitrust laws and their EU competition law counterparts. Over time, this has led him through a career that has included stops in the New York, Brussels, Beijing, and, currently, Hong Kong offices of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
"As a student, I always found the competing policy implications held in tension in antitrust law to be fascinating—finding the balance between keeping prices low while spurring innovation and still guaranteeing businesses a level competitive playing field. Practicing in the real world has been even more fun."
He explained that this is in part because "antitrust law is one of those rare disciplines that combines both litigation and corporate work." On the litigation side, he has worked on everything from private class actions in the United States to defending investigations before the U.S. Department of Justice, the European Commission, and the UK Office of Fair Trade. On the regulatory side, he has worked with competition authorities in Europe, China, India, Turkey, and more to secure competition clearances for international mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures.
Born in Michigan, Foster grew up in Alabama but had already "contracted a lifelong weakness for the Detroit Tigers." While in high school, he studied Mandarin Chinese at a local university and spent a summer doing odd jobs for an American company in Shanghai and Guangzhou. He also presaged his international law career by studying French, Latin, and Ancient Greek—although the usefulness of the Latin and Ancient Greek in his everyday life is still open to some debate.
He attended Yale for undergrad, where he studied history, classics, and Chinese. He also serendipitously stumbled across a course called Computers and the Law looking to get out of a social sciences requirement, which ended up opening his eyes to a whole new career path.
"This was at the dawning of the Internet age, and I was amazed at how the law—something I had always perceived as stodgy, immutable and hide-bound—was already rapidly changing and adapting to deal with totally new issues regarding privacy, jurisdiction, intellectual property, and more," Foster recalled. "For the first time, I saw that the law was in fact a dynamic, living thing, which really sparked my interest to pursue it further."
Choosing a Career, and Choosing a Law School
Foster had always considered law school as a possibility, largely under the influence of his mother, Helen Currie Foster ('83, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif), "certainly the greatest and most able lawyer I have ever known. The fact that she finished law school with two mewling children and a family—and finished with a flourish, as her record shows—has always amazed me. More than that, though, she was always a counselor and advisor to her clients, always working to help others solve new problems, which I thought sounded like it might be fun."
He chose Michigan Law because of the strong academic reputation and the strength of the international and comparative law programs. He also was drawn here because his best friend from Yale (John T. Adams, who earned JD from Michigan Law in 2003) had begun studying at Michigan the year before, and reported back great things.
On top of that, "Michigan's reputation for professors, with lions such as Ed Cooper, Tom Kauper, Yale Kamisar, and J.J. White, and rising stars like John Pottow, made the choice clear. One of the most valuable things I learned in undergrad was that you can get a good education at any institution in the world if you work hard enough, but the quality of your professors and your fellow students is what can make a place truly exceptional."
The Benefit of the Darrow Scholarship
As a Darrow Scholarship recipient, Foster was grateful for the added benefit of knowing he would leave law school without debt. He took an extra year to get his LLM, in part, because there was "less of a crushing debt burden overshadowing" his choices, he said. In addition, he used a Bates Fellowship to help pursue an LLM in European law at the University of Edinburgh, with a focus on competition law.
"Having the Darrow Scholarship gave me a sense of freedom while I was a student," he said, "because I knew I was getting the best education in the country but would have more economic freedom afterwards to choose my profession."
Story written by Katie Vloet.
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