Nearly 20 major law firms are preparing to coordinate their defenses as they contest an antitrust lawsuit in Illinois federal court alleging a group of top universities conspired to restrict financial aid to undergraduates, reported Reuters.
Mayer Brown partner Britt Miller in Chicago, co-leader of the firm’s antitrust practice and a lawyer for defendant Georgetown University, told US District Judge Matthew Kennelly that the defense lawyers had discussed a joint filing seeking dismissal of the claims filed in January.
“We will be as efficient as possible and targeted,” Miller said at a hearing earlier this week in the Northern District of Illinois federal court.
Miller did not immediately respond to a message on Friday seeking comment about the coordination among defense lawyers and their firms. Other leading defense advocates did not return similar messages.
Karen Lent, head of the antitrust practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, is defending Columbia University. Eric Mahr of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, co-head of the antitrust litigation group, is on the defense team for Massachusetts Institute of Technology. White & Case partner Mark Gidley, leader of the firm’s antitrust group, is representing Vanderbilt University. Among the other schools sued are Yale University, Brown University and Northwestern University.
In all, the purported class action accuses 17 schools of participating “in a price-fixing cartel that is designed to reduce or eliminate financial aid as a locus of competition.” The schools have denied any wrongdoing.
The defendant schools are members of the “568 Presidents Group,” an affiliation that says it “works together in an effort to maintain a need-based financial aid system.”
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