If you’re thinking about a legal career and are drawn to the idea of working in mergers and acquisitions, there are a few things you should know. M&A is a complex and challenging area of law, but it can also be very rewarding. 

In this post, we’ll give you an overview of what it takes to become an M&A lawyer. We’ll also discuss some of the key skills and traits essential for success in this field. Read on to learn more.

What Is M&A?

M&A stands for mergers and acquisitions, which represents a branch of corporate law. The process entails two or more public or private companies combining their assets and operations to form a single entity

There are many reasons companies engage in M&A activity, including but not limited to: increasing market share, acquiring new technology or products, or expanding into new markets. Because of their complexity, M&A deals are typically handled by teams of lawyers with specific expertise in this area. 

If you’re interested in becoming an M&A lawyer, you’ll need to develop a strong understanding of the legal aspects of these transactions and have some knowledge of corporate finance. You’ll also need to be able to navigate the often-complex negotiations involved.

The Steps to Becoming an M&A Lawyer

The path you need to take to become an M&A lawyer is similar to that of other kinds of lawyers, especially in the beginning stages. However, there are some steps you’ll need to take to become an expert in M&A law. 

Here are the basic steps that will result in you having a prosperous career in M&A as a lawyer.

Step 1: Acquire a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step to becoming an M&A lawyer in the US is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. There is no specific major required, but it’s important to develop strong research, writing, and analytical skills. Your GPA will play a crucial role in getting into the law school of your choosing, so make sure you do as well as possible.

Step 2: Pass the LSAT

After you’ve completed your undergraduate degree, you’ll need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The LSAT is a half-day exam that tests reading comprehension, writing skills, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning skills. A high score on the LSAT is essential for getting into a good law school.

Step 3: Enroll in an Accredited Law School

Many law schools across the country offer programs specializing in M&A law. To ensure that you receive a quality education, make sure to enroll in an accredited institution. 

During your time in law school, you’ll take courses such as Securities Regulation, Mergers and Acquisitions, Business Associations, Federal Income Tax, Antitrust Law, and Accounting for Lawyers.

Step 4: Earn a Master’s or Juris Doctor Degree

After your undergraduate studies, you’ll need to complete a three-year Juris Doctor (JD) program. Alternatively, you could earn a two-year Master of Laws (LLM) degree. 

Step 5: Pass the MPRE

Before you can take the bar exam, you need to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). This is a requirement in all US jurisdictions except for Wisconsin and Puerto Rico. The MPRE is a two-hour long multiple-choice exam that tests your knowledge regarding the professional conduct of lawyers. 

Step 6: Pass the Bar Exam

After you’ve graduated from law school, you’ll need to pass the bar exam in order to become a licensed M&A lawyer. The bar exam is a two-day exam that tests your knowledge of general legal principles and your state’s specific laws.

Step 7: Become a Summer Associate at a Law Firm 

After completing the previous steps, you may proceed to the process of finding your dream job. This includes the usual resume writing and preparing for interviews before applying for M&A lawyer jobs.  

For starters, you can become a summer associate at a law firm. A summer associateship program allows law students to gain experience working at a law firm. It usually lasts from nine to eleven weeks. 

During your time as a summer associate, you’ll have the opportunity to work on real cases and learn from experienced lawyers. Make sure you choose a firm that has M&A practices.

The M&A Lawyer’s Tasks

M&A lawyers are responsible for a wide range of duties, all of which are essential to successfully completing an M&A transaction. Here are some of the main responsibilities you’ll encounter.

Conducting Due Diligence 

Due diligence is an important part of any M&A transaction. It’s the process of investigating a potential purchase or merger to ensure it’s a sound investment. 

This investigation typically includes a review of the target company’s financial statements, business plans, and legal documents, including all the client’s contracts, such as third-party consents. It’s important to make sure that these documents are accurate and in compliance with all applicable laws.

Negotiating and Drafting the Terms of the Deal 

This is perhaps the most important duty of an M&A lawyer. It’s their job to ensure that the terms of the deal are fair and advantageous for their client. This requires a deep understanding of both business and law, as well as strong negotiating tactics.

Providing Advice

In addition to their other duties, M&A lawyers also provide their clients with legal advice on a variety of topics. This may include advice on tax implications, antitrust regulations, and more. 

It’s important to have a thorough understanding of the law in order to provide accurate and helpful advice that will help achieve your client’s business objectives.

Collaborating With Antitrust Lawyers

Some mergers and acquisitions can create monopolies or reduce competition in a particular market. For that reason, mergers and acquisitions lawyers work closely with antitrust lawyers to assess regulatory obstacles and gain regulatory approval.

The Key Skills Needed To Become a Successful M&A Lawyer

As is the case with any job, there are certain skills an aspiring M&A lawyer must possess in order to carry out the above-mentioned duties. In this section, we’ll cover what’s essential for success in the field.

A Deep Understanding of Business and Law

As we mentioned above, M&A lawyers need to have a deep understanding of both business and law. This allows them to effectively negotiate the terms of the deal and review all of the legal documents.

Strong Research, Writing, and Analytical Skills

M&A lawyers must be able to research complex legal issues, draft clear and concise documents, and analyze data. These skills are vital for success in this field.

The Ability To Think Strategically 

M&A lawyers need to be able to think strategically to identify the best course of action for their clients. They must be able to see the big picture and make decisions that will benefit their clients in the long run.

Excellent Communication Skills 

M&A lawyers must communicate effectively with their clients, opposing counsel, and other parties involved in the transaction. This includes both oral and written communication.

Strong Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is a key part of an M&A lawyer’s job. They must be able to negotiate effectively on behalf of their clients in order to get the best possible terms for the deal.

Final Comments

In conclusion, an M&A lawyer is a type of corporate lawyer, and the steps to become one don’t differ too much from those for other types of lawyers. Therefore, it requires a significant investment of time and effort. However, if you have the skills and traits necessary for success in this field, it can be a very rewarding career.