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Are you looking for opportunities in the current business climate? Almost two-thirds of middle-market companies say that mergers and acquisitions will be their primary growth driver this year.
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are some of the most complex transactions your business will go through. The right legal representation is critical. You may already have a corporate lawyer, but M&A is its own specialty.
Your M&A lawyer will be involved in almost every stage of the deal. They negotiate the letter of intent that serves as the formal agreement between the buyer and seller. They conduct due diligence to identify any legal risks associated with the deal.
M&A attorneys also write and negotiate the main purchase or merger agreement and any other related agreements.
Finding the right lawyer for your business is essential. Learn how to choose an M&A lawyer who will give you the best results.
Research Your Options
Like any business decision, you should research your options for lawyers. Personal referrals can be a good place to start. This isn’t a good option if you don’t want your colleagues to know you’re looking for an M&A lawyer, though.
Reading online reviews can be helpful. Sites like Martindale-Hubbell, Avvo, and Lawyers.com are specifically for legal professionals. Martindale-Hubbell provides reviews from other lawyers as well as from clients. Some sites let you contact a lawyer directly through their platform.
You can ask any lawyer you’re considering hiring for references and past clients.
The American Bar Association sponsors a certification program for lawyer referral services. Certified referral services recommend lawyers who meet certain quality standards. This gives you more assurance that a lawyer has the type and level of experience you need.
The bar association for your community or county can also recommend M&A lawyers in your area.
Look for the Right Experience
An attorney may be very capable. If that person doesn’t have the right experience for your situation, they won’t be the right lawyer.
Experience is a critical factor when you choose an M&A lawyer. You need someone with deep M&A case experience. They need to know the difference between standard practices and non-standard demands the opposing party may have.
Experienced M&A lawyers know where negotiations are likely to break down. They won’t let a small issue ruin the deal.
You want a lawyer who has worked on cases similar to yours. Your company or industry may have specific regulatory or compliance issues. You need an attorney familiar with those aspects of the law.
Evaluate the Team
M&A attorneys often work in large firms. You want to know who you’ll actually be working within the transaction. The legal team should include lawyers with the specializations your case may need, such as:
You don’t need to wait for the lawyers to learn about the fundamentals of your case. Your team can start working right away on the best strategies for your situation.
Think About the Attorney-Client Relationship
You’ll be working closely with your M&A lawyer throughout the transaction. Depending on the complexity of your case, this can be a lengthy process.
You’ll be trusting your lawyer with the confidential details of your business. Mergers and acquisitions can be stressful. You want to feel comfortable talking to your lawyer.
Ask about Communication
Communication is another important part of your relationship with your M&A lawyer. The American Bar Association Rules of Professional Conduct stress that good communication is necessary.
Your attorney should update you regularly about the progress of your case. You should receive responses to your questions in a timely manner. However, you don’t want to pay for unnecessary hours due to inefficient communication.
Consider the Lawyer’s Temperament
M&A transactions involve complex negotiations. You need a lawyer with the temperament to succeed with the opposing counsel. An abrasive personality may create obstacles that wouldn’t have appeared otherwise.
Look for an attorney with experience working through legal complexities and complicated situations.
Each lawyer will have their own approach to handling your case. You want someone who shares your view of the business world. They should be willing to prioritize the aspects of your transaction that you think are more important.
M&A Lawyer Fees
Legal fees can be a significant expense in a merger or acquisition. The fees for an M&A lawyer shouldn’t be the deciding factor when choosing who to hire, though. An attorney with more experience may charge more but get you a better result.
Unexpected issues frequently come up that affect the cost of your case. However, a lawyer who has worked on many cases similar to yours should be able to give you a reasonable estimate.
You may be able to negotiate a fee agreement that will give you more predictability. Alternative fee agreements include:
Fixed or flat fees
Agreeing on the scope of work ahead of time can help you get a fixed fee or capped fee structure. For example, you may set a maximum number of contracts to review during due diligence.
Proactively managing your fee agreements can help you get the best legal guidance within your organization’s budget.
Choose an M&A Lawyer More Confidently
When you need to choose an M&A lawyer, start by doing some research. Look for an attorney with experience and a quality team. You’ll get the best results by choosing a lawyer whose style and temperament match your approach to business.
Finally, although M&A lawyer fees are an important consideration, the value you get from an M&A lawyer with expertise is more important.
Looking for more useful tips to give you a competitive advantage? Check out our other business articles for more informative articles like this.