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Peter J. Schwingler, Stinson LLP
Peter J. Schwingler, Stinson LLP

The POWER 30: Peter J. Schwingler

Peter Schwingler played tennis at Gustavus Adolphus College and went on to Columbia Law School. He came back to Minnesota to clerk for 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James Loken and taught tennis to another judge, who introduced him to the law firm that would become Stinson LLP.

He then practiced with the antitrust division of the Department of Justice for four years. That was a “dream job,” investigating and trying cases, Schwingler said. He was there for two of the biggest antitrust trials in DOJ history: the proposed — yet unsuccessful — merger of Anthem Inc. and Cigna, and AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner.

After his time at the DOJ, Schwingler came back to Stinson and never considered another firm. His practice now involves antitrust and class actions.

“The merger world has changed dramatically,” Schwingler said. It is getting more attention and more aggressive enforcement, he continued. “It takes longer to get a deal through even if you don’t get sued.”

The government also is going after no-poach agreements and wage-fixing violations, Schwingler said. No-poach agreements are between or among employers of different companies to not recruit or solicit employees of the other, unless there is a legitimate business purpose. “What doesn’t pass muster is called a naked no-poach agreement. That’s just like price fixing flipped around,” he explained.

Schwingler observed that antitrust enforcement is generally bipartisan or nonpartisan. “It’s pro consumer, but it’s also about free markets and allowing capitalism to work within a less intrusive way, which people think is Republican. It’s about the personalities of the people,” he continued. “If you look at antitrust, the DOJ has always had very strong leadership,” he said. The leaders then get really good people, he said.

Class actions have been pretty hot and still are, Schwingler said. They are not losing any momentum although they can take well over five years to play out, he added.