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Sharis Pozen '86, Obama's top antitrust enforcer, stepping down in April

Sharis Arnold Pozen '86
Sharis Arnold Pozen '86

Sharis Arnold Pozen ’86, the acting assistant attorney general in the antitrust division of the Department of Justice, will step down in April.

Obama appointed Pozen to the highest-ranking antitrust post last August. Under her leadership, the division scuttled AT&T’s proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile on the grounds that it would reduce competition and lead to higher phone bills for consumers.

Before and during law school at Washington University in St. Louis, Pozen spent summers working at a private law firm and in the Missouri attorney general’s office where her father, J. Burleigh Arnold, had been chief of staff.

“My father saw great value in the personal satisfaction of public service,” she says. “Once I graduated from law school, I decided that public service was where I wanted to be, too.”

At the suggestion of her boyfriend (now husband) Thorn Pozen ’88, Pozen joined the Federal Trade Commission, where she began as a staff attorney in the merger litigation division and later became attorney adviser to FTC Commissioner Christine Varney. In 1995, Pozen left the government to join the Washington, D.C., office of Hogan & Hartson, where she served as director of the firm’s antitrust group.

“I was very nervous going to a firm” after spending years with the feds, Pozen says. “But I found that what my clients really wanted was for me as their lawyer to bring together the economics and the facts and the law and to give them advice. I don’t believe corporate America wants to violate the law.”

She returned to public service in 2009 when Varney, who had been named assistant attorney general for antitrust, asked Pozen to serve as her chief of staff. “I vowed I would work hard every single day on behalf of consumers,” Pozen says. When Varney left, Pozen was tapped to replace her.

Pozen, a government and history major, says Connecticut College prepared her well for a career that requires her to draw on information and expertise from many different disciplines. “It’s all about connecting the dots,” she says.

Some of her most memorable classes were with Marion Doro, the Lucy Marsh Haskell ’19 Professor of Government, and history professors Edward Cranz and Bruce Kirmmse. She has vivid memories of Cranz’s lectures on European intellectual history and Kirmmse’s “passionate reading of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein.’”

After she steps down from her post, Pozen plans to take a short sabbatical and then return to practicing law in the private sector. Even as she looks forward to spending more time with Thorn, an attorney at Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP, and their 12- and 14-year-old daughters.

April 30 — her last day at Justice — will be bittersweet, she notes: “This is one of the best jobs I will ever have.”




February 15, 2012

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