U.S. antitrust enforcers are hiring litigators from major law firms, signaling a growing readiness for court battles to block mergers they view as anticompetitive.

The Justice Department's antitrust division on Jan. 3 brought in Mark Ryan, a partner at Mayer Brown LLP, as director of litigation, a new position. He'll work for Joseph Wayland, a former Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP antitrust litigator who joined as civil enforcement chief a year ago. The Federal Trade Commission intends to hire a trial attorney in coming months, Commissioner Tom Rosch said in an interview.

"If a case is worth bringing, then we should be prepared to litigate it," Rosch said.

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