Obama taps Bill Baer to lead DOJ antitrust division

President Obama announced his intent to nominate Bill Baer to lead the Justice Department's antitrust division on Friday.

The former director of the Federal Trade Commission's Competition Bureau was widely considered the front-runner for the assistant attorney general post, and was reportedly being vetted for the job by the Obama administration last month after acting head Sharis Pozen announced her intent to resign in April.

Pozen took over after former assistant attorney general Christine Varney resigned in August to join Cravath, Swaine, & Moore. Under Pozen, the Justice Department sued to block AT&T's proposed $39 acquisition of T-Mobile USA, resulting in the eventual breakup of the deal.

Baer will likely maintain the Justice Department's aggressive stance on antitrust issues; his firm represented AT&T in the T-Mobile matter, but that wasn't expected to affect his candidacy. The FTC's ongoing probe of Google's search business is considered the top antitrust issue for tech observers at present.

Baer is chairman of the antitrust group at Arnold and Porter LLP. He joined Arnold and Porter in 1980 and became a partner at the firm in 1983. He began his legal career in 1975 as a trial attorney for the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau.

Baer earned a bachelor's degree from Lawrence University and a law degree from Stanford Law School. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Leslie Overton and Senate Antitrust subpanel general counsel Seth Bloom were said to be finalists for the job, according to sources.

— This post was updated at 12:29 p.m.