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Alyssa Hirschfeld
Alyssa Hirschfeld, Lathrop GPM

The POWER 30: Alyssa Hirschfeld

The key skill about being a mergers and acquisition lawyer is to keep the deal moving.

The important thing, and what Alyssa Hirschfeld tells her associates, is “don’t be a bottleneck,” which essentially means to keep documents moving to the other side, buyer or seller. Keeping things going is easier now that we are all used to virtual communication and thus not traveling as much, Hirschfeld said.

As many Power 30 attorneys say, client relationship skills are crucial in an M&A practice, said Hirschfeld. “Our role is to facilitate and get the best possible terms without getting in the way. We don’t want to be the tail that wags the dog. If clients want to risk all we can do is advise them.”

Hirschfeld added, “I personally enjoy the personal connection in some of the deals, it feels more personal than private equity transactions.”

But private equity is important, Hirschfeld added. “Private equity is a really significant driver of deals, that been the case for several years, it’s almost always involved.”

Another change in the practice is the increased use of rep and warranty insurance, which protects buyers against certain mistakes. “A lot of deal issues that people tend to fight about, people don’t care about anymore,” she said.

There are many more men than women who do M&A work, Hirschfeld said. “There are very few women who practice [in it] for more than a few years. Retention is the hard part, and many law firms are trying to figure that out. Retention is also crucial to bringing new women lawyers along. “There is a lack of role models and guides of a path to success,” she said.

Also, Hirschfeld said “Our associates see very few women because so many of the clients and referral sources are also male-dominated. I don’t think anybody’s trying to block women.

But Hirschfeld doesn’t want to be a “woman lawyer,” she said.  “I just want people to think I’m a good lawyer.”