Interview with Scott Wagner: Antitrust Attorney Deals with Impact of Economic Theory on Law

Daily Business Review
August 19, 2016

If antitrust attorney Scott Wagner had been better at sports, he might never have become a lawyer.

"I've always wanted to be an attorney," he said. "I don't know where the bug came from, but I know that it was there from a very, very early age. I always sort of chalk it up to the fact that I was not a very good athlete. Ever. And I needed to figure out something else to think about doing with my life, and somehow that became it."

Wherever the bug came from, it stuck. Now a partner at Bilzin Sumberg, Wagner grew up in Lawrence, New York, on Long Island. His father ran a small cab company in the Bronx, he said. His mother is still a secretary for an accountant and a doctor. Wagner aimed for the courtroom.

"I worked on political campaigns, I think as early as middle school. I was on the mock trial team in high school," he said. "I went to college knowing that after four years there was going to be three years following in law school."

He wasn't sure about exactly what kind of law he wanted to practice, but he was sure he wanted to be a litigator, he said. "I don't think I even knew there were other kinds of lawyers probably until I got to law school."

Still, his undergraduate degree may have been some indication of where he would end up. He majored in political economy, "which is really sort of the intersection between economics and the traditional political science," he said. "That was one of the things that attracted me to the antitrust field — because it's really the same thing. You're dealing very often with the intersection and the impact of economic theory on law."

Common Thread
A summer clerkship led to his first job after law school at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York. Five years later he joined Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod and headed south to Miami. By his second year there he was named one of the Daily Business Review's 40 Under 40, credited with recovering more than $100 million for plaintiffs in antitrust actions in the previous year.

This year he completed the recovery of over $300 million for opt-out plaintiffs in an LCD price-fixing antirust litigation. In September, he will become the chair of the antitrust section of the Federal Bar Association.

His practice focuses on complex litigation including antitrust, multidistrict class actions and opt-outs. His cases have involved dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, computer chips, cribs, smoking cessation patches and Dwyane Wade sports memorabilia.

"The common thread in all these cases, if there is a common thread, is that they're either bet the company or very important cases to the client," Wagner said.

"One of the things I really enjoy about what I do is I can't do a case unless I really become intimately involved and understand my client's business," he continued. "Any time I have a case I have to get in and really understand the client's business. I actually get to understand things so well ... I feel like when I get done with one of these cases I can go open up a business in whatever industry it is."

It's not just the varied nature of the cases that he finds appealing.

"There's a lot of areas in the law you can learn and you can learn very quickly. Antitrust law is a very specialized area, and a lot of the assumptions people have about the law are the exact opposite in the antitrust world," he said. "For example, antitrust has a provision that no other area of the DOJ has. They have what's called an amnesty policy. It's a formal written policy that if you're the first one to go into the department of justice and you confess your sins … the company and executives get a full walk."

Because of the extremely complex character of his cases, Wagner also has become something of an expert in electronic discovery.

"In a lot of the cases were talking about the number of documents and electronic material are just staggering," he said. "Knowing how to manage that in a practical and efficient way is a real benefit for clients."

South Florida, too, is becoming the locus of several major multidistrict litigation, or MDL, cases, an area Wagner has gained expertise in. The cases themselves are complicated, Wagner noted, but because MDLs involve multiple attorneys representing clients in a variety of venues, they add a layer of intricacy that goes beyond an understanding of the law.

"It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. You have to work well with others," he said. "There's a lot of politics and personalities you really have to know how to work together with people."

"I say all the time, 'They sure don't teach you this in law school.' "

"In a lot of the cases were talking about the number of documents and electronic material are just staggering," he said. "Knowing how to manage that in a practical and efficient way is a real benefit for clients."

This article is reprinted from the August 19, 2016 issue of the Daily Business Review. © 2016 ALM Media Properties, LLC. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.

About Bilzin Sumberg 
Bilzin Sumberg is a commercial law firm based in Florida. The Firm’s core practices include Business Finance & Restructuring, Corporate, Environmental, International, Land Development & Government Relations, Litigation, Real Estate, and Tax. For more information, please visit

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