Baer, who is the chair of Arnold and Porter’s Antitrust Practice Group, also previously headed the Federal Trade Commission’s competition division when it stopped a merger between Staples and Office Depot in 1997.
He will replace Sharis Pozen, the acting assistant attorney general for antitrust, who plans to step down at the end of April. Pozen succeeded Christine Varney, who left last August.
Baer’s nomination, which was widely expected, still must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Baer is seen as someone who would continue the present policies of the Justice Department’s antitrust office.
The division’s key outstanding cases include the purchase of Nortel’s patent assets by a consortium led by Apple, and Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility. It also has a number of criminal price-fixing probes.
Mr. Baer is a very well respected figure in the antitrust community and I expect this to be perceived — as it should be — as a very high quality appointment.