5 Traits of a Good M&A Lawyer

When you sell a business in Chicago, the right M&A firm is critical to the sale. The M&A firm you choose should ideally lend credibility to the transaction, support a professional and orderly negotiation process, and set reasonable expectations that help you get top dollar for your company.

When you sell a business in Chicago, the right M&A firm is critical to the sale. The M&A firm you choose should ideally lend credibility to the transaction, support a professional and orderly negotiation process, and set reasonable expectations that help you get top dollar for your company. An M&A lawyer is also key to the process. Sound legal advice can help you understand key deal terms, avoid common mistakes, and prevent catastrophes like running afoul of regulatory issues. While some M&A firms offer in-house counsel you can use, you may also need to hire your own M&A attorney, or choose one from a list your business broker offers. So how can you make the decision? Here are five traits of an exceptional lawyer when you sell your business.

 

Distant and Unbiased

If you need a lawyer, you might first look to your trusted in-house counsel. After all, you hired them for a reason, right? Not so fast. A good lawyer has the benefit of distance. They need to be able to look critically at your business, and an in-house attorney lacks this ability. They might also be too involved in daily operations to be impartial or feel comfortable expressing an unbiased judgment. While your general counsel is probably great at their job, this is not the right job for them.

 

Experienced With Exit Planning

Mergers and acquisitions are a highly specialized area of law. Your friend who does wills or family law simply lacks the experience and insight to handle these complex transactions. You should only work with a lawyer who has extensive M&A experience—ideally in your geographic region and sub sector. This isn’t something someone can learn to do overnight; instead, you need an attorney with an eye for detail, who knows where transactions tend to go wrong.

 

Exceptional Communication

Forget about lawyer jokes. The best lawyers are also good, honest, direct communicators who can answer your questions about the transaction when it matters most. Ask how the lawyer plans to communicate, and pay careful attention to how they communicate with you during the hiring phase? Are they direct and honest? Do they tell you things you might not want to hear? Are they respectful and friendly? All of these attributes will matter as you enter the high stakes world of selling your company.

 

Access to Partners

Any firm can put together an impressive presentation. But when it’s time to go to bat at the negotiation table, who’s going to be in your corner? What about when you’re navigating the ins and outs of due diligence? The high hourly rate you pay should come with a highly qualified partner—not access to a junior associate. Ask who will be working on your account, and how many partner hours you can expect.

 

Clear and Specific Billing

Hiring a lawyer can be expensive. This is why it’s so important that billing be transparent. You should know exactly how much you’ll pay for every service you get, and your attorney should let you know if you’re exceeding your planned budget. Ask about billing practices, and fixed fees. If you’re working within a specific budget, let the firm know, and ask what they can do to help you remain within budget.


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