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What Happens to In-House Lawyers When Companies Merge?

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

If you don't already work for a corporate Goliath, you may soon. From health care to tech to hospitality, corporate mergers and acquisitions are skyrocketing. They'll soon outpace the $4.6 trillion record set in 2007, the Los Angeles Times reports.

But when two companies merge, what happens to their in-house attorneys?

When the Merging Begins

It's common for legal departments to restructure after a merger and it's very common for members of the in-house team to be let go. How much change in-house counsel will face depends on the size of both legal departments -- count your blessings if the acquired company has none. Also important is whether the departments will be consolidated entirely, or if some practice areas will continue to operate separately?

The best way to find out how things might go is to be involved. If you weren't part of the team dealing with the original plan, you can still have a say in how things go after the deal is put together. Most legal departments will create an integration team to handle the merger. Volunteer for it. Not only will you have some insight into how things turn out, you'll get some valuable M&A experience as well.

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

If you're worried about your position, take a minute to read your leadership. People get anxious when news of a merger is announced and many will start to look elsewhere for fallbacks. Leaders that are on top of things will "re-recruit" the talent they want to stay. If you're feeling courted, there's a reason. If you've been getting the cold shoulder, consider dusting off your resume and get on the phone with a headhunter.

If you do plan on staying, however, consider what your new role might be. Your duties and work environment are likely to change. So too might your clout. If you were one of only a few in-house attorneys, you might not enjoy the same influence when your company is taken over by MegaCorp. Ask yourself, if you weren't already working at one of the companies, would you apply for the job? If the answer is no, get searching for a new one.

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