Young law students and lawyers keep asking me about my experiences as a corporate lawyer and the key skills that they should develop to pursue and excel in M&A practice.

Here are my two cents:

  1. Every good building stands on a good foundation. One can start by building a solid foundation in corporate laws, contract law, and finance. Obtain additional specialisations in corporate laws, if you can manage with your time and resources.
  2. You should continuously seek to attain knowledge and expertise peculiar to M&A transactions. Acquaint yourself with the entire ecosystem governing M&A transactions - relevant laws, rules, regulations, FDI norms, and industry customs and practices. Make conscious efforts to stay updated on latest trends and developments in the M&A field.
  3. You may attend industry events, conferences, and seminars to expand your professional network. Building relationships with M&A professionals may lead to potential job opportunities and mentorship.
  4. Try to join a law firm with a strong M&A practice. Firms handling complex and high-profile transactions will provide you exposure to outstanding learning opportunities. Be proactive in requesting to be engaged in M&A projects within the firm. Assisting senior lawyers with due diligence, contract drafting, negotiations, and deal closings (the entire lifecycle of an M&A transaction) will familiarise you with different types of transactions and industries.
  5. Develop attention to detail. M&A deals involve intricate and complex legal documents and negotiations, so an outstanding level of attention to detail is crucial. Develop strong analytical and drafting skills (particularly contracts) to support your endeavours.
  6. Cultivate team spirit. M&A transactions often involve multidisciplinary teams, including lawyers, investment bankers, accountants, and consultants. Develop strong teamwork and communication skills to collaborate effectively with professionals from different backgrounds and work harmoniously to achieve the desired outcomes.
  7. Open your mind. Our mind is like an umbrella – it works only when it is opened, else no point. Be receptive, adaptable and open-minded about people, ideas, things. M&A transactions can be quite dynamic and challenging most of the times. Be adaptable to different working styles, open to learning new concepts, and flexible in your approach.
  8. Learn continuously: The legal and business landscapes are constantly evolving. Stay updated on changes in laws, regulations, and market trends and practices. Engage in continuous learning and professional development through seminars, courses, and industry publications.
  9. Seek mentorship. Try to find experienced M&A lawyers who can mentor and guide you. They can provide valuable insights, share their experiences, and offer career advice. Their guidance may be instrumental in shaping your career.

To sum it up, success in an M&A career requires a combination of technical expertise, practical experience, networking, and adaptability. Stay driven, embrace learning opportunities, and seek guidance from experienced professionals along the way.

Originally published July 31, 2023.

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