April 07, 2016
The firm mourns the passing of our dear friend and esteemed colleague, retired partner Tom Rosch, a brilliant and trusted adviser who was widely known as one of the preeminent practitioners in antitrust and trade regulation law. Tom will particularly be remembered as an architect of Latham’s modern global antitrust practice and for his influential service as Commissioner of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from 2006 to 2013. In his distinguished private practice, Tom led more than 100 federal and state antitrust cases, a number of which were high-profile and precedent-setting. In government, Tom played a key role in revitalizing the FTC’s litigation efforts, particularly in relation to merger enforcement.
Those who collaborated with him over the years also knew Tom as a wise and generous colleague, a mentor and leader, and a valued friend with great energy and wit. Latham partner Mandy Reeves, who worked with Tom both at Latham and the FTC, says: “Tom had a transformational effect on my career. He was a wonderful teacher, a brilliant antitrust lawyer with a razor-sharp intellect, and a kind, gentle soul wrapped into one.”
A Distinguished Career
Tom graduated from Harvard University in 1961 and Harvard Law School in 1965, and then moved to California to begin work as an associate at McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen in San Francisco, where he became a partner in 1972. He served as director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection from 1973 to 1975, and then returned to McCutchen Doyle, where he worked until he joined Latham’s San Francisco office in 1994. At Latham, he was named Office Managing Partner in December 1994, a role that he held until June 1999.
Tom’s exemplary talent and leadership helped propel Latham’s Antitrust & Competition Practice to the global top tier. He successfully tried notable antitrust cases for a range of clients, which “helped build the firm’s antitrust practice into perhaps the best antitrust defense litigation shop in San Francisco and the country,” according to Global Competition Review. Tom was particularly proud of his collaboration with partners Dan Wall and Greg Lindstrom in leading the trial team in United States v. Oracle Corporation, a 2004 case in the Northern District of California in which the government objected to client Oracle’s $10.3 billion acquisition of PeopleSoft, Inc. It is rare for such merger challenges to reach trial, but a determined client and a deft legal strategy led to a landmark verdict in Oracle’s favor. The victory was named a "Top Defense Win" of 2004 by The National Law Journal.
Says Dan Wall about his experiences working with Tom: “He was a leading light of antitrust law who made remarkable contributions to this firm and our profession, and he became the greatest professional mentor I ever had. Most of all, Tom had a passion for the work of being an antitrust lawyer like no other person I’ve ever met.” The day after Tom's passing, Dan paid tribute to him on the record of a hearing in an antitrust case in Florida.
At the FTC, Tom worked to revise and shorten its in-house trial process, and he became known for forceful and reasoned dissents from FTC cases, both on the competition and consumer protection sides of the agency.
After serving his term as FTC Commissioner, Tom rejoined Latham & Watkins in February 2013 as of counsel. He said he was “excited about returning to Latham,” which he called “the happiest place that I practiced in my 40-year career.” He spent the remainder of his active career supporting colleagues and clients on a range of competition and consumer protection matters.
“It would be hard to overstate Tom’s significance to our practice, the office and to so many of our colleagues,” says San Francisco Office Managing Partner Karen Silverman. “If we are successful today, as a group and individually, it’s because Tom set us on this course with such complete integrity and high standards.”
An Enduring Legacy
Among his numerous other achievements, Tom was a member of the Special Committee to Study the Role of the FTC in 1989. He was also a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers for more than 20 years, served on the Advisory Board of the American Antitrust Institute, and chaired both the California Bar Association and the American Bar Association’s Antitrust Sections. In 2003, Tom was honored as “Antitrust Lawyer of the Year” by the California State Bar Antitrust Section.
In every respect, Tom made a positive and indelible mark on the law through both his private practice and government service. As Washington, D.C. Managing Partner Michael Egge says: “Tom did it all — he worked at the FTC as a staffer, became a titan antitrust defense lawyer, fathered one of the largest and most successful antitrust practices in the world today here at Latham. And when most say 'enough’s enough' and retire, he instead took his antitrust practice to an even higher level and became the most impactful, energetic commissioner that the FTC had ever seen. He is and always will be an inspiration to us all.”
We will miss Tom greatly and extend our condolences to his family and friends