1. Don't forget other practice areas: Anticipate the need for document review by other practice groups (i.e. tax, environmental, IP). Involve them early on in the transaction and keep them apprised of updates. You'll develop good working relationships with those lawyers and avoid any oversights. Colleagues appreciate associates who plan ahead to avoid items being missed.
2. Take the time to tell the "deal story": Always take the time to explain transactions to the rest of the deal team, particularly junior lawyers and subject matter advisors (i.e. tax, environmental, IP). One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not to ensure your colleagues understand your client's goals and the background of the transaction. Your peers will work more effectively if they feel involved and understand your client's story.
3. Take charge of closing: By the time a transaction has launched or the agreement has been signed, you're often exhausted or have already moved your focus onto another transaction. That being said, it's important not to take a passive role in closing. Be sure you have a clear plan set in place for wiring funds. In particular, be mindful of any deadlines with the trustee or DTC and set up a pre-closing call with all parties if need be. There are a lot of moving pieces at closing and clients feel secure when they know tasks are under control.
4. Think outside your jurisdiction: One of the first questions to ask in relation to a transaction is whether you need advice from foreign counsel, whether it's with respect to securities law exemptions, tax laws or otherwise. Involving foreign counsel too late (or not at all) happens all too frequently and can lead to missed issues and negative outcomes for your client.
5. Become a generalist: Avoid getting stuck in an M&A or securities silo. Pay attention on calls about tax, finance or other complex issues related to the deal even if they are not in your wheelhouse. Learn from the subject matter experts around you so that you can identify issues going forward and increase your value to the clients you advise. A good transactional lawyer has a general understanding of basic deal issues that can arise but also knows that they themselves will never have all the answers.
6. Keep records: Before moving on to the next deal (or taking that much needed break), take the time to ensure that key emails are saved for future reference. These include emails about negotiated points and due diligence call invitations. Down the road, you may need to recall information from prior deals and having that institutional record will increase your efficiency and impress clients.
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