Meet Anne C. Witt, a Law Professor marching to her own beat
A dedicated pianist, an international antitrust law expert, a passionate explorer of the digital economy, an impactful researcher, and a brilliant EDHEC law professor, is there anything Anne Witt can’t do?! Predict the future perhaps? Although she hardly needs to, since she’s exactly at the right place at the right time, and her passion remains intact.
“It was either math, physics or the piano for me”, she says about her career aspirations as a teenager in Geneva. But no equation, experiment or concerto managed to durably sway her: it’s the delicate intricacies of the law that will act as a siren call for a young Anne Witt, earning her first degree at the Albrecht-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany). “I suppose growing up with a diplomat father and moving countries every four years gave me a certain appreciation for the law as a peacebuilding tool”. The real revelation came in year 3 of law school in an EU law class: ”It just clicked! For me it wasn’t bureaucracy and regulation. It was cooperation and trust building between nations, and that really resonated with me.”
Though quite opaque from the outside, EU law will soon hold no secrets for Anne. Always eager to broaden her horizons, she seizes the opportunity of a Fulbright grant to pursue an LLM in the US, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. There, she comes across a whole other way of thinking: where the EU approach to antitrust law used to be based on fairness and preserving competition, the American way was focused on economics and low prices. She’s hooked. Coming back to the old continent, she makes her way through EU institutions and embarks on a PhD journey which will find a brilliant conclusion with the publication of her thesis “The More Economic Approach to EU Antitrust Law'' (1) in 2009.
“I was set to go back to private practice after that, but I got an offer to teach at the University of Kent (England). The combination of one foot in research and one foot in teaching drew me in. I quickly found my underlying teaching philosophy: clarity. My aim is to make complex legal and economic concepts clear and simple.” She then applied to her first permanent position at Leicester Law School, where she spent five years…”and then came Brexit”, she recalls, “almost overnight, there was no need for EU law anymore at my institution. I was offered a choice between teaching English contract law or English constitutional law. But was I really going to throw away twenty years of expertise in EU antitrust law!” That’s when EDHEC got lucky…
“For a pure product of law schools, a business school is a shock…of freedom!” she says of her first three years on the Lille Campus. “Here, I have so much more freedom to teach what I’m interested in. My classes were a bit on the fringe at law schools. Here, I’m at the core of it all. Business, markets and competition are everywhere.”
Since 2020, she’s been teaching competition law with a focus on the digital economy to a very engaged audience of BBA, LLM and MsC students. “It’s a very different audience from what I was used to”, she reckons, “but what business students lack in natural ease with legal concepts, they more than make up for with an understanding of markets and business strategies. The conversations are different, more practical, less theoretical. It’s also less static, there’s an eagerness to decipher and find solutions. But I just can’t get EDHEC students to read anything!”, she laughs.
Her teaching is heavily influenced by her research: her relentless exploration of the digital economy led her to study in detail the European attempts at regulating big tech companies, as illustrated by her latest publication for the Common Market Law Review “The Digital Markets Act - Regulating the Wild West” (2), or the aptly named “Taming Tech Giants'' published in the Antitrust Bulletin (3). “It’s a very exciting time to be studying antitrust law. In the past, it was more of a niche expert field. But with the extraordinary market concentration of the digital economy and the rise of AI, those topics have captured the attention of a much wider audience. I can now go into details about the recent Microsoft/Activision merger and there won’t be a yawn in sight”, she explains.
But in a fast-evolving field, Anne Witt has a fast pace of her own. Not only does she teach and research, she also trains national judges, regulators and legal counsels through judicial training networks. “My way of making an impact on public policy”, she says modestly. But impartiality remains a cornerstone of her work: “I’m a law expert, I’m involved in law creation, I don’t do lobbying”, she affirms. Oh, and did we mention she’s also a regular contributor to major news outlets like The Washington Post, The Guardian or Bloomberg (4) who seek her expert opinion on current competition law developments? Lately, she’s also been involved in EDHEC Augmented Law Institute: “I like the interdisciplinary approach to explore all things related to the digital economy and the evolution of the legal framework. It’s very refreshing to mix points of view”.
Teaching, researching, training, all in a day’s work! Energized by her passion, Anne Witt can, and will, really do it all: “I haven’t given up on the piano either”, she reveals, “I even have a secret project: an EDHEC Chamber Music Ensemble.” That’s one tune we can all rally behind!
Since 2020: EDHEC Professor of Law, EDHEC Augmented Law Institute Researcher
2019: Emile Noël Fellow, New York University School of Law
2016: Visiting Fellow, European University Institute, Florence
2012-2020: Associate Professor, Leicester Law School, University of Leicester
2009-2012: Associate Lecturer, Kent Law School, University of Kent
2009: PhD, Kent Law School, University of Kent, United Kingdom
2002-2003: Research Assistant, European Parliament
2002: Zweites juristisches Staatsexamen, Düsseldorf (German bar exam)
1998: LLM, University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA (Fulbright Grant)
1996: Erstes juristisches Staatsexamen (German law degree), Albrecht-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
1994: Certificat d’études terminales (piano), Conservatoire de musique de Genève, Switzerland
(1) The More Economic Approach to EU Antitrust Law, Bloomsbury publishing, April 2019
(2) The Digital Markets Act: Regulating the Wild West, Common Market Law Review, Volume 60, June 2023, Pages 625 - 666
(3) Taming Tech Giants, The Antitrust Bulletin, Volume 67, June 2022, Pages 187 - 189
(4) Nov. 2022 "Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition will harm UK gamers, says watchdog" (The Guardian) - July 2023 "Meta’s European Party Is Hanging by a Thread" (Bloomberg)