Steve Cernak is the quintessential antitrust lawyer: Accomplished. Driven. Client-centric. A respected leader with more than 20 years of in-house experience at General Motors, he is well-versed in the full range of global competition issues. Today, he puts that experience to work as he helps clients both inside and outside the auto industry reach successful outcomes.

As a veteran practitioner, Steve is adept at explaining the complexities of his field to clients at all levels. He offers clear, actionable advice based on a deep understanding of antitrust law. To that end, members of the media frequently call on Steve to explain the context and importance of new antitrust developments.

Few lawyers outside of Washington, D.C., file Hart-Scott-Rodino premerger notifications, but Steve has filed more than 100, including several that ended up as the subject of large investigations. He’s equally adept at offering counsel on nonmerger matters, such as negotiating joint venture agreements and providing advice on price programs.

His leadership positions in the ABA Antitrust Section and U.S. Chamber of Commerce keep Steve closely connected to the global antitrust community. Steve’s textbook and many articles and speeches display his thought leadership. Finally, Steve teaches the next generation of antitrust leaders at three law schools. 

Steve’s experience extends beyond antitrust to the full range of regulatory matters. Clients call on him to create successful marketing and pricing programs, and to review their advertising. He has helped both targets and complaining parties in dealings with state and federal consumer protection agencies. In addition, he has successfully implemented programs that integrate business and legal responses to hundreds of consumer complaints.

  • Experience

    • Filed more than 100 Hart-Scott-Rodino premerger notifications, handled several second-request responses and managed several multinational merger reviews.
    • Created and implemented numerous global competition law-compliance programs, whether in the form of presentations, speeches, booklets, films or online modules.
    • In a billion-dollar antitrust conspiracy matter, coordinated response to multiple agency investigations and hundreds of lawsuits to settle allegations for a fraction of the original claim.
    • Negotiated joint venture agreements among fierce automotive rivals, made filings necessary for their antitrust protection, advised top management on their implementation and served as virtual general counsel for one for more than a decade.
    • Served as divisional general counsel for aftermarket parts and service divisions, and now advises leading automotive aftermarket consultant.
    • Advised on and defended successful minimum-advertised pricing, loyalty pricing and other innovative marketing programs.
    • Created and managed integrated team of lawyers, legal assistants, technical experts and customer service representatives to help reduce breach of warranty claims for one automotive manufacturer by more than 60 percent.
    • Coordinated antitrust advice for multiple CEOs on antitrust/labor interface during labor negotiations.
  • Credentials


    • University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1989, cum laude
    • University of Michigan, M.A., Economics, 1989
    • University of Michigan, A.B., Economics, 1986, with high honors and distinction

    Bar Admissions

    • Michigan

            Professional Memberships

            American Bar Association

            Section of Antitrust Law

            Council Member


            Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association Foundation

            Access to Justice Committee



            State Bar of Michigan

            Antitrust, Franchising & Trade Regulation Section



            U.S. Chamber of Commerce

            Antitrust Council


            International Competition Policy Working Group – Member

            Teaching Appointments

            University of Michigan Law School – Intermittent Lecturer

            Counseling and Advocacy in Antitrust

            In House Counsel

            Advanced Antitrust


            Wayne State University Law School – Adjunct Professor

            Antitrust Law


            Thomas M. Cooley Law School Corporate and Finance LLM Program – Adjunct Professor

            Antitrust Law

          • Insights


            Top 5 Antitrust Issues Facing Companies in the U.S. Today: #5 Intellectual Property

            Decades ago, antitrust enforcement officials developed the “9 No-No’s” regarding patents and licenses. The days of antitrust hostility toward intellectual property are behind us, but renewed tension between antitrust and intellectual property policy seems to be growing.


            Top 5 Antitrust Issues Facing Companies in the U.S. Today: #4 Merger Review

            Merger review has long been the aspect of antitrust law most visible in the general media – and the run-up to the November election was no exception.


            Top 5 Antitrust Issues Facing Companies in the U.S. Today: #3 Pricing

            Prices provide crucial information to buyers and sellers, and so have always been critical to a competitive economy and antitrust law.


            Top 5 Antitrust Issues Facing Companies in the U.S. Today: #2 Competitor Collaboration

            Antitrust law has always been concerned about certain types of collaboration among competitors – but it has at times acknowledged that benchmarking, joint ventures, and information exchanges can promote competition if done properly.


            Top 5 Antitrust Issues Facing Companies in the U.S. Today: #1 New Enforcement Officials

            While there is general consensus in the antitrust community that antitrust enforcement should be focused on protecting competition, there is disagreement about how active antitrust enforcement should be.

            Trending Legal Issue

            Top 5 Antitrust Issues Facing Companies in the U.S. Today

            Whether dealing with online competitors, market disruption or regulatory uncertainty, companies operating in the U.S. face a host of new and ongoing challenges.

            Trending Legal Issue

            1-800 Contacts’ Trademark Agreements with Rivals Not Safe from Antitrust Scrutiny

            Last August, the Federal Trade Commission issued an administrative complaint against 1-800 Contacts alleging that the company’s agreements with its competitors over the use of trademarks in search advertising violated FTC Act Section 5.

            Trending Legal Issue

            New HSR Thresholds to Take Effect Soon

            On January 19, 2017, the FTC announced the annual adjustments to the jurisdictional thresholds for premerger notification filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act (HSR).

            Other Publications

            • "Defining the Market to Avoid Dismissal in Antitrust Actions," (co-author) Daily Journal (Aug. 5, 2016)
            • "Third Circuit Provides Guidance on Loyalty Discounts in Eisai v. Sanofi," The Price Point (Summer 2016)
            • "Slower Crony Capitalism," AntitrustConnect Blog (Aug. 19, 2015)
            • "Contact Lens Cases:  Colgate, RPM and Agreement," The Price Point (Winter 2015)
            • "Antitrust Simulations," West Academic Publishing (Dec. 2013)
            • "Is the FTC Changing Its Intellectual Property Rights Policy?" AntitrustConnect Blog (Apr. 14, 2014)
            • "OTA Case Turns Out to Be Less about MFNs and More about Agreement," AntitrustConnect Blog (Mar. 6, 2014)
            • "Why the FTC’s McWane Opinions Raise More Questions Than They Answer," AntitrustConnect Blog (Feb. 11, 2014)
            • "FTC and FRAND Commitments: Be Careful What You Promise," Intellectual Property Today (Dec. 2013)
            • "Changes Among FTC Members Means No New Initiatives Soon," (co-author) Law360 (Apr. 18, 2013)
            • "Supreme Court Urged to Offer Guidance on Monopolization Standards in Eaton Case," (co-author) The Antitrust Counselor (Mar. 2013)
            • "Clarification From High Court On State Action Exemption," Law360 (Feb. 19, 2013)
            • "Overview of Oral Argument in FTC v. Phoebe Putney," Law360 (Nov. 26, 2012)

            Speeches & Presentations

            • "Scaling the Antitrust Wall in China," ABA Section of Antitrust Law Teleconference (Mar. 5, 2015)
            • "So You (Might) Want to Be an Antitrust Adjunct Professor?" (panelist) 62nd Antitrust Law Spring Meeting, Washington, D.C. (Mar. 27, 2014)
            • "Advertising Claims – Are the Substantiation Standards Shifting?" (moderator) 61st Spring Meeting, ABA Section of Antitrust Law (Apr. 10, 2013)
            • "Antitrust Update for In-House Counsel," (moderator) Corporate Counseling Committee Meeting, ABA Section of Antitrust Law (Mar. 2013)
            • "When Offense is the Best Defense: Handling Concurrent Threats of Private Lawsuits and Government Investigations," (moderator) ABA Section of Antitrust Law Corporate Counseling Committee Teleseminar (Sep. 2012)
            • "The Antitrust-Labor Interface: Not Just for Pro Athletes," ABA Section of Antitrust Law Spring Meeting, Washington, D.C. (Mar. 2012)
          • Citizenship

            Civic and Charitable Memberships

            Farmington St. Gerald Catholic Church

            Council Member