James O'Connell

James J. O'Connell


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Covington & Burling LLP
One CityCenter
850 Tenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001-4956
Tel: +1 202 662 5991



  • Emory University School of Law, J.D., 1998
    • with Distinction
    • Emory Law Journal; Executive Managing Editor
    • Order of the Coif
  • Carnegie Mellon University, B.S., 1990

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • New York
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Jim O’Connell advises international and US clients on their critical antitrust matters, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, licensing arrangements and other business practices, government investigations, and litigation. His clients and peers recommend him for his knowledge of antitrust law, as well as for his experience and his intimate understanding of the people and processes of the US antitrust enforcement agencies, to help them navigate the antitrust regulatory process successfully and efficiently.  In connection with his merger practice, he also regularly helps clients assess their pre-merger notification obligations under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and foreign merger control regimes.

In a recent review of Covington’s antitrust team, Legal 500 described Mr. O’Connell as a “well-respected” practitioner who is “well connected with the DOJ” and recognized by clients for his ability to “quickly develop a high level of company-specific expertise.”  Those clients have included companies in the energy and natural resources, manufacturing, life sciences, aerospace, chemicals, consumer goods, high-tech, on-line services, telecommunications, and media industries.

Mr. O’Connell joined Covington in 2009 after over five years of public service with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served in several leadership roles, including as Chief of Staff and Deputy Assistant Attorney General for international enforcement, appellate litigation, and policy matters.  As Deputy AAG, he was responsible for the development of the Division’s major legislative and policy positions, such as those regarding intellectual property and the enforcement of Section 2 of the Sherman Act.  He was also responsible for managing the Division’s relations with its counterparts around the world and in that capacity worked frequently with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition and the enforcement agencies of countries such as China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Brazil, and the UK.  This extensive international enforcement experience enables him to provide his clients highly informed assessments of their US and non-US antitrust risks.  Prior to his government service, Mr. O’Connell practiced antitrust law at an international New York-based firm.

A frequent speaker and writer on antitrust law and policy issues, Mr. O’Connell chairs the editorial board of Antitrust, the magazine of the American Bar Association’s Section of Antitrust Law.  He has testified before the U.S. Congress and the Antitrust Modernization Commission.

Representative Matters


  • Representation of Facebook in obtaining merger review clearance for various acquisitions, including that of Instagram.
  • Representation of Chemtrade Logistics Inc. in obtaining merger review clearance for its $860 million acquisition of General Chemical Corp.
  • Representation of Stryker Corporation, the medical devices and equipment manufacturing firm, in obtaining merger review clearance for several transactions.
  • Advised MDA Corp. regarding the clearance of its acquisition of Space Systems/Loral.
  • Representation of Niacet Corp. in obtaining merger review clearance of its acquisition of certain specialty chemicals business lines from Kemira Oyj.
  • Represented Exxon Mobil in obtaining antitrust clearance for its $41 billion acquisition of XTO Energy, the largest transaction in the history of the natural gas industry.
  • Represented Prysmian S.p.A. in obtaining merger review clearance for its acquisition of Draka Holding N.V.
  • Advised Newport Television LLC in connection with the sale of broadcast television stations to Sinclair Broadcasting, Nexstar Broadcasting, and Cox Media Group.
  • Represented oilfield services company Ameron International in obtaining antitrust clearance for its acquisition by National Oilwell Varco.
  • Advised Joy Global regarding its acquisition of LeTourneau Technologies from Rowan Companies and its sale of LeTourneau’s drilling systems and offshore products businesses to Cameron International.


  • Advise one of the world’s largest derivative products markets regarding various matters.
  • Advise Dow Corning Corporation regarding various matters, including its manufacturing operations in China.
  • Representation of Expedia in connection with the Antitrust Division’s investigation of the Google/ITA Software transaction and the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation of Google’s search-related conduct.
  • Advise provider of television programming regarding competition issues in the cable and satellite television industry.
  • Advise numerous innovator pharmaceutical companies about competition issues relating to settlements of patent infringement litigation brought under the Hatch-Waxman Act.
  • Provide antitrust guidance to various television broadcasting companies.
  • Provide assistance to clients regarding potential competition law issues arising under China’s Anti-Monopoly Law.
  • Develop successful and cost-effective strategies for responding to requests for information from the Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission.


  • Advised a leading technology company in connection with antitrust and patent infringement litigation arising out of the assertion of standard-essential patents subject to a FRAND commitment.

Honors and Rankings

  • Washington DC Super Lawyers, Antitrust Litigation

Pro Bono

  • Represented the executor of the estate of a mentally ill individual who died while in custody at the Alexandria Adult Detention Center (Walker v. Correct Care Solutions, LLC).
  • Regular outside counsel to the Mountaineering Section of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Non-Governmental Advisor, International Competition Network
  • Member of the American Bar Association’s Section of Antitrust Law and Chair of the Editorial Board of Antitrust, the Section’s magazine
  • Instructor, University of Virginia Law School (Advanced Antitrust Seminar)

Publications and Speeches

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