Some Guidelines for Choosing an M&A Attorney
When you are preparing your company for sale, there may be some issues that could hamper or prevent the legal sale of your company. This may require an M&A Attorney to mitigate or eliminate those issues prior to marketing your company.
However, we don’t usually recommend engaging an M&A attorney until we have negotiated a non-binding Letter of Intent that includes all the terms of the deal. This strategy will save costly legal fees you might spend for a deal that may never happen.
When considering a merger/acquisition transaction for your business, it is critical to engage a seasoned M&A lawyer. While you may have an attorney for your corporation or your personal issues, the process of purchasing or selling a business is a completely different specialty.
Consider the following points we suggest you use to assist you in selecting an M&A Attorney:
How much experience does the lawyer have? How many M&A transactions has he completed? If there are any specific legal aspects within your industry such as environmental, licensing, human resources, or other regulations, then we suggest you select an attorney familiar with those legal or compliance issues.
Does the attorney have a temperament that will work with the opposing counsel? Even with the best legal mind, a temperament that is abrasive or does not negotiate well, will likely cause problems with completing the transaction. Will the attorney provide some examples of how he was able to get through legal complexities and impasses?
Does the attorney have knowledge of any legal issues that will be critical for your company? He/ should explain these critical issues that may affect the sale of your company, especially any that may make the transaction go forward or terminate discussions.
How would you feel about working with the attorney? Is he going to help you get through the emotional aspects of the transaction? Controlling emotional issues and looking for common interests is an important personality trait necessary in M&A transactions that may take weeks to complete.
Does the attorney know which legal concepts are most important to raise? Does he understand current market terms?
If the M&A attorney works with a large firm, who will you actually be working with in the transaction? If there is a team involved, do they have specialists that you may need? If needed, will the transaction attorney suggest attorneys who specialize in critical legal issues such as finance, taxes, ERISA, real estate, intellectual property (IP) and other possibly critical issues? Will you need some of these specialists?
What will the legal fees be for your particular transaction? There are always unanticipated issues with unknown costs that may arise, but if the attorney has done enough transactions they should be able to give you an estimate. Cost should not be the determining factor in selecting an M&A attorney. A good M&A attorney may cost more per hour but get the deal done more quickly and efficiently than an inexperienced M&A attorney will little experience but charges less per hour.