The practice of law is a world unto itself, while also requiring an intimate understanding of the world at large and the practice of business within it. Many areas of expertise in the legal profession necessitate a specific set of skills, in addition to those generally accepted of a practicing attorney. With regards to attorneys wanting to learn how to become a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, this is most certainly the case.
Mergers and acquisitions happen quite regularly in American business practice (in fact, law firms themselves, of course, often merge and acquire one another). As such, this area of practice is not one to go out style any time soon. However, it does require a certain ability to understand not simply legal practices, but business practices as well. Due to the nature of this practice, lawyers will come into contact with professionals in fields as disparate as oil refineries, clothing retail store outlets, and financial planning, to name just a few. Knowing how to work with each one and the general principles that relate to all are vital to one who wants to become a mergers and acquisitions lawyer.
What does it mean to become a mergers and acquisitions lawyer?
To begin with, mergers and acquisitions lawyers are responsible for performing due diligence before any contracts are signed and businesses irrevocably changed. In order to become a lawyer practicing in this area, then, a young attorney should practice under the tutelage and supervision of a lawyer with years of experience in such law. Learning the ins and outs through practice will come in handy as so much in this area is repetitive, a form applied to one business or the other. Reinventing the wheel each time, while necessary to a certain extent, is not preferable to having a ready knowledge of how to proceed at any given step along the way.
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) lawyers do one thing quite a bit: agreement drafting. These agreements, according to Halpin Law Firm, are contracts between the two businesses, organizations, or firms that stipulate all necessary and important business measures, such as “confidentiality, non-compete, and employment agreements”. If the businesses at hand are related to or act in the field of financial or economic advisement, these M&A agreements also set forth the conditions of what loans may be necessary and the debt/liabilities that currently exist and how they will ultimately be settled.
Beyond an understanding of how businesses operate in their respective fields and the trade practices of certain industries, mergers and acquisitions attorneys must also have a thorough knowledge and understanding of intellectual property law, as nearly all companies have some amount of IP that is proprietary to their business operations. All information provided by both sides on account of IP or otherwise should be checked for accuracy and reliability, another task for which mergers and acquisitions lawyers are ultimately responsible.
When all is said and done, the merger or acquisition must be “closed” by a lawyer representing the businesses in question. At this point, all necessary paperwork must be filed with regulatory agencies, state and federal governments, the IRS, and any number of other institutions and organizations. Halpin points out that this is the time with any “changes in the title to assets” are completed as well. If there are any issues that arise in the process of assets and closing, mergers and acquisitions lawyers will be able to provide guidance as to how to proceed, necessary next steps, and further complications that may need to be dealt with by them or their firm. As such, to become a mergers and acquisitions lawyer one is to understand both the practice of law, as well as the practice of business, a merger of sorts between two professions in which the nature of both is equally important.