Lina Khan was still a law student when she wrote a widely praised article calling for the redefinition of corporate monopolies in the United States. Fast forward about two years and she is now considered a name to watch in the legal world.

Khan’s vision for the future of antitrust laws has drawn a lot of attention in recent months. The news site Politico recently named Khan in its 2018 Politico 50 list last week. The list details the “50 ideas driving politics (and the people behind them)” and described Khan as “a leader of a new school of antitrust thought.” The 29-year-old lawyer was also profiled by the New York Times, who dubbed her “Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist.”

It was while Khan was a student at Yale Law School that she began thinking about antitrust legislation. Her resulting piece — titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” — set out to redefine the current laws.

“My argument is that gauging real competition in the twenty-first century marketplace—especially in the case of online platforms—requires analyzing the underlying structure and dynamics of markets,” wrote Khan in her article’s introductory note.

As the Times described it, Khan’s “argument went against a consensus in antitrust circles that dates back to the 1970s — the moment when regulation was redefined to focus on consumer welfare, which is to say price.”

Khan also focused on the fact that the digital age and the subsequent rise of companies like Amazon requires regulators to interpret the law in a way similar to the treatment of railroads in the 19th century.

“The rise of these companies is posing a whole new set of questions about how we do antitrust policy,” Khan told Politico. The paper would later receive the Michael Egger Prize from the Yale Law Journal.

Since finishing law school, Khan has been part of the team that launched the Open Markets Institute, a Washington think tank devoted to promoting “greater awareness of the political and economic dangers of monopolization.” She currently serves as the Open Markets Institute’s Director of Legal Policy.

While she knows that many consumers around the world rely on and enjoy shopping on Amazon and watching shows on Amazon Prime, Khan pointed out to the Times companies with too much power are dangerous.

“As consumers, as users, we love these tech companies,” she said. “But as citizens, as workers, and as entrepreneurs, we recognize that their power is troubling. We need a new framework, a new vocabulary for how to assess and address their dominance.”


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