Sonia K. Pfaffenroth
Sonia K. Pfaffenroth became the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Enforcement in August 2015, after serving for two years in the Antitrust Division, first as Senior Counsel and then as Chief of Staff to Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer. As Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Ms. Pfaffenroth is responsible for supervising a variety of civil enforcement efforts across the Division, working with civil teams from Washington and the Division’s San Francisco Office. Ms. Pfaffenroth also works closely with the Foreign Commerce Section on the Division’s international program, and with the Legal Policy Section on competition advocacy efforts.
Ms. Pfaffenroth’s time as senior counsel and chief of staff provided her with unique insights as she transitioned to her new role. Ms. Pfaffenroth now helps oversee and lead some of the Division’s most important enforcement and policy matters, and has had an opportunity to work hand-in-hand with many of the Division’s attorneys and economists. She notes that working closely with the Division’s career staff has been one of her favorite parts of the job. “It has been an amazing and enriching experience. Our attorneys, economists, and paralegals are dedicated to getting to the right answer—whether that is taking an enforcement action or letting a merger go without a challenge—and they work collegially and constructively to solve tough problems. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of this terrific team.”
Ms. Pfaffenroth began her legal career as a general litigator at O’Melveny & Myers. She then clerked for Judge Paul L. Friedman on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. During her clerkship, Ms. Pfaffenroth had her first exposure to antitrust-related issues, and it was then that she decided to specialize in antitrust after returning to a firm. Before joining the department in 2013, she was a partner at Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C. Ms. Pfaffenroth received her J.D. from Stanford Law School and her undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Carleton College. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.
When asked about what advice she might offer young lawyers, Ms. Pfaffenroth said: “Look for opportunities that can take you into unfamiliar areas. Always be willing to put your hand up and take a risk. It can be easy to fall into a pattern where you just stay in your comfort zone, but if you step outside, you can end up doing something unanticipated that you will really enjoy.”