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Lina Khan with a group of students
Lina Khan, center of back row, with students

Coffee and Conversation with Lina Khan, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission

Earlier this month, Khan visited Yale SOM to talk with students about the commission’s work enforcing antitrust policy and promoting competition. Craig Miranda ’24 and Jason Liu ’25 share their takeaways.

Craig Miranda ’24

Recently, Lina Khan graciously agreed to meet with a group of SOMers for a conversation on the current state of antitrust regulation in the United States. Chair Khan is a 2017 graduate of Yale Law School and the current chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). To say that she is active in her goal to protect consumers from anti-competitive practices of big businesses would be an understatement. Since taking over the helm at the FTC in 2021, Lina Khan has made headlines by challenging the status quo of business operations, particularly by big technology companies and in the pharmaceutical industry. This was a unique opportunity for students at Yale SOM to meet with Chair Khan and get a first-hand glimpse into the mind leading one of the country’s two top antitrust regulators.

The overarching theme of the conversation was the role that a regulator plays in deterring anticompetitive business practices. Chair Khan explained that antitrust regulation is not equivalent to anti-business. Rather, a regulator is responsible for ensuring that businesses compete fairly and that large incumbent companies with immense market power do not indulge in unlawful practices that would prevent a new entrant from competing on the merits of their product/service. In effect, the FTC is pro-competitive, stimulating innovation and acting as a representative for the interests of consumers and employees, who are less concentrated and hold less bargaining power than big businesses.

The FTC does this by not only challenging the potentially anticompetitive modus operandi of specific businesses, but more importantly, developing an environment where other businesses are deterred from engaging in similar practices. Chair Khan cited numerous cases that did not even go to trial because companies resorted to structural or behavioral remedies that would no longer dampen competition.

We also got a glimpse into the human side of Chair Khan. Not only does she take on some of the biggest and most powerful people in corporate America, but Lina Khan does so as the youngest chairperson of the FTC. Chair Khan answered student questions on navigating internal and external organizational challenges as a female leader and the importance of not sinking into a victim mindset.

Given my post-MBA career interest in infrastructure M&A, I am taking Competition Economics and Policy with Prof. Fiona Scott Morton, former chief economist of the Antitrust Division of the DOJ at Yale SOM and M&A Deal Negotiation with Igor Kirman, partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, at the Yale Law School. I am grateful for the opportunity to meet with the chair of the FTC and learn more about antitrust from the top regulator. Lina Khan’s grace and eloquence were truly inspiring.

Jason Liu ’25

As someone who has worked with attorneys and members of the FTC, I was eager to get the chance to meet directly with Chair Khan and hear her perspectives on the role the FTC plays in shaping antitrust laws and in the future with big tech and AI.

Prior to coming to SOM, I worked in economic consulting and helped the FTC quantify their case against bad actors and anti-competitive behavior. Seeing how that looks from the FTC’s point of view—what makes them start an investigation, how they choose to run it, and what charges they bring—was like seeing how my piece of the puzzle fit in with the rest of it. Chair Khan also brought a whole different lens to view anti-competitive behavior, as not just bad for the consumers but also for other competitors and businesses!

After hearing Chair Khan’s perspective, I now want to further develop my market analysis skills to help companies legally, and ethically, serve consumer needs. While I haven’t figured out if this is in the realm of consulting, government oversight work, or internal strategy, I do know that at the end of the day, my work will be about helping consumers.