As mergers and acquisitions continue to see growth, mergers & acquisitions, or “deal” lawyers, will need to evaluate how they draft, access, and manage these new contracts. With 2021 being the biggest year for M&A to date, it stands to reason that this growth will only continue in the coming year. M&A lawyers are forced to stay on top of the trend to deliver the same service to clients.
To alleviate growing pains associated with handling these contracts, lawyers are turning to new technology and legal practice management software, all while staying up-to-date with the latest deals during this unprecedented sector growth. In order to find the best ways to manage the workload as demand increases, it’s crucial to first analyze the M&A market now wrapping up at the end of 2021 and examine where researchers are predicting it will go in 2022.
Mergers & Acquisitions 2021 Recap
Taking a look back, 2021 was the strongest opening nine months of M&A, ever. In the United States alone, target M&A was up 139%, totaling over $2 trillion. To date, 750 deals were announced worth more than $1 billion. The US leads what has been a record year for all major regions with most setting all-time records.
What is causing this boom? Increasing confidence in global markets due to the vaccine and hopes of returning to pre-Covid business operations seems to be the cause for the surge in activity. This confidence coupled with low-interest rates and high liquidity led to an aggressive acquisition market for strategic buyers to take advantage of.
Mergers & Acquisitions 2022 Predictions
While the effectiveness of the vaccine remains somewhat untested, the long-term positive effects it has on the M&A market remains to be seen and presents a major concern for M&A lawyers. The fear of the pandemic lurks in many industries and inflation continues to rise causing more roadblocks for favorable conditions.
However, not all hope is lost for M&A – it continues to be a sellers’ market making for competitive auctions. With such a robust and fast-moving future on the horizon, M&A lawyers are seeing the need to stay on the pulse of the market and to find new ways to manage an increased workload.
5 Tips to Help M&A Lawyers Manage the Workload
As 2022 shapes up to be another record-setting year for M&A, lawyers are re-examining how they handle every part of the deal process, from beginning conversations to signing on the dotted line. New nuances, such as agreements pertaining to vaccines and remote meetings are having to be addressed.
Here are 5 tips to help lawyers manage the workload during the M&A surge:
- Address Covid-19 Vaccination Policies Early – With the cause for concern still present in most of the country, it’s important that law firms state their policies on Covid-19 precautions early, so all parties are informed and prepared. These policies may include social distancing, mask requirements, and proof of vaccination. As new boosters are made available, many agencies are considering changing the definition of “fully vaccinated,” which may change the way firms and their clients meet in person.
- Consider Remote Closings – Many firms and organizations are continuing to work remotely as much as possible and closings are no exception. If all parties agree, M&A closings may be conducted remotely or virtually. The kinds of agreements that are allowed to close remotely vary, however, the allowance has increased greatly since the beginning of the pandemic. As the pandemic gets ready to enter its third year, the number and kinds of agreements that are allowed to close remotely are sure to continue to increase to allow for health safety and precautions.
- Utilize Document Management Software and Programs – As the workload of M&A lawyers increases, so does the need for systems and organizations. Now is the time to look into document management software and programs. These systems give lawyers access to important information from the road or at home and work seamlessly with Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and other integrations. Lawyers are able to reduce paperwork clutter and reduce preparation time thanks to editable templates and modern collaboration.
- Capture Signatures Remotely with eSignature Software – Even if your closings can’t or won’t be held entirely remotely, M&A lawyers can still utilize eSignature to collect signatures along the way and save time and reduce the need for meeting in person. With this kind of program, lawyers can create, send, and store legal electronically signed forms, agreements, and documents all in one place. eSignature software is also used when onboarding new clients allowing for the capture of information to be performed quickly and conveniently for all involved.
- Move the Firm’s Calendar Online – As schedules get more and more congested, legal calendaring software can help prevent busy lawyers from missing or overbooking appointments. Lawyers are able to save time, money, and resources by integrating and centralizing all events and can even convert events into time entries ensuring all billable time is captured. These programs sync with Google, Outlook, and other widely-used calendars making it easy to start using firm-wide.
Future for M&A Lawyers
While 2021 has been a busy and profitable year for M&A, experts are predicting that 2022 may meet, or even exceed, this activity. The rise of M&A activity has demanded the increase in the talent pool of M&A lawyers, as well as the use of new technologies to handle a robust workload and streamline efficiency.
While every new season is sure to bring a new set of growing pains and, at times, a steep learning curve, these new solutions are rising to the challenges presented by a booming and growing M&A market. M&A lawyers who may be struggling to stay afloat while giving their clients top-notch service are sure to benefit from the implementation of one if not many, of these tips to help manage the load.