(published on LinkedIn June 18, 2019)
Successful transactions are consummated every day, some due to the skills and experience of the deal team and others purely by luck. Assuming you prefer the former, I suggest you consider the following when working with your attorney toward a successful outcome on a transaction:
- Engage your attorney early on in the process. Speak with your attorney before you enter into a preliminary agreement such as a letter of intent (in connection with a purchase or sale) or a commitment letter (in connection with a financing). An experienced business attorney should be able to help you frame the structure of the transaction.
- Allow your attorney to review the preliminary documents and provide you with feedback before you commit to the preliminary terms. The tone of the negotiations is set at this early stage. Knowledge is power and you want to maintain a position of strength throughout the negotiation.
- Use your attorney as your proxy. Attorneys should be the “bad” or “tough” guy or gal during the negotiation. Chances are, you will have to maintain a good working relationship with the counterparty on a post-closing basis.
- Communicate with your attorney and be honest. Ask questions frequently and satisfy yourself that you understand the answers.
- Set realistic deadlines. Setting unreasonable deadlines will only create additional stress on all parties which leads to sub-par work product. When mapping out the timing of transaction process, ask yourself where you have leeway.
- Do not lawyer for your lawyer. You engaged your attorney to represent your interests. While tempting, resist self-help methods to save a few dollars. Allow your professionals to do their job.
- Discuss fees and bills on a timely basis. If you have questions regarding current invoices, bring those concerns up to your attorney as soon as possible. This should ensure that the time entries in question remain fresh in people’s minds.
- Last, bear in mind that your attorney is on your side. If you believe that your attorney is taking the wrong approach do not circumvent him or her by going directly to the counterparty. Rather, discuss your concerns with your attorney frankly and promptly.
Communication is critical when working with your attorney. Speaking often and directly should save you time and money and make for a much less stressful transaction.