Antitrust Law Expert Roger Fones '75: Moving from Offense to Defense
Roger Fones '75 met C. William O'Neill Professor in Law and Judicial Administration Peter Swire at a holiday party in December 2006. Both men agreed that after their initial introduction, their mutual interest in antitrust law and cases secured their acquaintance. It led to Roger's return to Columbus--as a guest lecturer for Prof. Swire's Antitrust class this year.
After graduating from what is now the Moritz College of Law in 1975, Roger spent nearly 30 years with the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ's) Antitrust Division, including ten years as chief of its Transportation, Energy and Agriculture Section. In February 2006, he joined the Washington, DC law firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP, where he is a partner in their Antitrust and Competition Law practice group.
Despite the passage of some 33 years since he graduated from OSU, Roger had not set foot back into Drinko Hall until this Thanksgiving trip. He says he had seen electronic images of the construction and changes made at the law college since he walked its hallowed halls, so he had an idea what to expect there, but he was not prepared to witness a major reconstruction project currently underway just north of the college. "I was startled to see that the Student Union is one big hole right now," he says. He recalls spending many hours there between classes, to study, relax or converse with friends.
From prosecution to defense
Although his current job at Morrison & Foerster is as litigation-heavy as was his work at the DOJ, Roger's new post has him defending clients against antitrust claims, rather than prosecuting, as he did when he worked for the government.
Roger admits his work for both the DOJ and Morrison & Foerster are similar in that he tries to develop facts to determine if an antitrust claim is viable. However, today he "works the opposite side of the argument," he says.
His years with the Department of Justice proved an excellent foundation for his current professional endeavors. "It's a great advantage that I was head of the Antitrust unit. I know what the various agencies are looking for and what they're all about," he says.
Hearing it from the expert
Roger Fones may not be a household name, but the clients he has represented and those he has sued throughout his lengthy career certainly are.
For example, he supervised the DOJ's lawsuits against American Airlines for monopolizing its Dallas-Ft. Worth hub. In that scenario, says Roger, American Airlines was accused of trying to prevent low-cost airlines from entering that market. Although the DOJ eventually lost the case on appeal, it proved to be pivotal in Roger's career. It was also the focus of his presentation to Professor Swire's antitrust class on November 21. Throughout his legal career, he has lectured at various continuing legal education courses, but his Moritz presentation was the first time he addressed a group of law students.
"It was an interesting case to talk about in an antitrust class," says Roger, who notes he was impressed that students had not only read about the case to prepare themselves for his presentation, they also asked excellent questions. "The students were engaged and knowledgeable," he says. He enjoyed speaking with Professor Swire's students so much that he would "come back to do it again."
For his part, Professor Swire says he was pleased to host Roger in his class, not only because he is so knowledgeable about antitrust law, but also since he's a Moritz grad. Roger's successful legal career in the highest echelons of the profession demonstrates that an "OSU graduate can reach the top of the field. It instills confidence [in the students] that they can be successful on a national level," he says.
Making Fones tick
Roger was born in Maryland but moved to Columbus when he was eight. He graduated from Eastmoor High School and went on to Denison University to earn undergraduate degrees in Economics and Math. In addition to his law degree, Roger also earned a Master's in Economics from Ohio State, completing both in 1975.
He married Nancy, his high school sweetheart, the day before he graduated from Denison in 1972. The couple are proud parents of three cats, Charlotte, Tasman and Sweety. "You can go away and leave them for days!" he marvels.
And leave them he does. Roger travels for work often but enjoys journeys for pleasure as well. He has backpacked in the Grand Canyon and the Canadian Rockies. This February, Roger will travel to Patagonia, where he will backpack in the Andes Mountains.
Roger and Nancy also enjoy purchasing and renovating historic homes, primarily in Louden City and Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. The seemingly reserved Roger calls another hobby his passion: driving his 1959 Austin Healey Roadster. "I take it out on the country roads. It's a convertible and I really like taking drives in that car."
Friends who would like to get in touch with Roger can reach him at email@example.com
By Tami Kamin-Meyer