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, Chair
            • State Bar of Michigan, Antitrust, Franchising & Trade Regulation Section, Member
            • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
                   Antitrust Council, Co-Chair
                   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


            Antitrust Masters Course IX

            American Bar Association Section of Antitrust Law

            Cambridge, Md.
            News Release

            Schiff Advised Altaris on $1.1 Billion Take-Private Acquisition of Analogic

            Schiff Hardin LLP served as legal counsel to Altaris Capital Partners in connection with an Altaris affiliate’s acquisition of Analogic Corporation for approximately $1.1 billion.

            News Release

            Schiff Hardin Represents Central Steel in Acquisition by Ryerson

            Schiff is representing Central Steel & Wire Company, a leading metal service center with a strong reputation as a valued supply chain partner.


            Protecting Brand & Distributor Investment on the Internet

            ABA Antitrust Section Spring Meeting

            Washington, D.C.
            News Release

            95 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2018 Leading Lawyers Lists

            Ninety-six Schiff Hardin lawyers have been named to the 2018 Leading Lawyers lists for Illinois and Michigan.


            DOJ Antitrust Division Again Emphasizes Risks of “No-Poach” Agreements

            In a recent speech, the head of the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) once again warned companies about the antitrust risks of certain agreements among employers not to hire each other’s employees.


            New HSR Thresholds to Take Effect Soon

            On January 26, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission announced upward revisions to the jurisdictional thresholds for premerger notification filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act.


            “No Export” Provision in Sales Agreement Survives Antitrust Challenge

            Late last week, the New Jersey federal court dismissed with prejudice a case where a customer challenged under the antitrust laws a car manufacturer’s requirement that he agree not to export a Jaguar Land Rover shortly after buying it.

            News Release

            Schiff Represents H. D. Smith in Acquisition by AmerisourceBergen

            Schiff Hardin LLP advised H. D. Smith, the largest privately held wholesaler in the United States, in its acquisition by AmerisourceBergen for $815 million.

            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

            • “Antitrust Masters Course IX,” American Bar Association Section of Antitrust Law, Cambridge, Md. (Oct. 18 – 19, 2018)
            • “Protecting Brand & Distributor Investment on the Internet,” ABA Antitrust Section Spring Meeting, Washington D.C. (Apr. 11, 2018)"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