Survey Finds Uptick in Hiring Law Firms for M&A Work

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By Michael Greene

Oct. 14 — In-house legal departments are more frequently using outside counsel for mergers and acquisitions work, an Oct. 12 Association of Corporate Counsel survey suggests.

The 2015 ACC Global Census, which polled 5,012 in-house counsel from 73 countries, found that the areas in which outside counsel consultation grew significantly since its 2011 report were M&A and employment/labor, both up 6 percent.

Despite the increase, however, M&A is not one of the top areas in which the respondents said they frequently consult outside attorneys. M&A work, at 34 percent, trails litigation (67 percent), employment/labor (50 percent) and intellectual property (41 percent).

Positive Perceptions of M&A?

In line with the continued increase in deal activity, 40 percent of the respondents said they worked at a company that has gone through an M&A transaction within the last year. That experience, while not impacting the respondents' job satisfaction, appears to be positive with respect to how they perceive their companies' financial health, the poll found.

“Despite the high proportion of in-house counsel who work in companies that either merged or were acquired last year, job satisfaction remains similar between those who do and do not work in a company that experienced a merger/acquisition,” the census stated. “In fact, among those in the merger or acquisition group, 57 percent said financial health was somewhat to significantly better compared with those who did not experience a merger or acquisition.”

The deal experience also may be having a positive impact on the respondents' career outlooks, the survey suggested. “Those who worked in companies that were merged or acquired last year were less likely to say they didn't expect a promotion (35 percent) compared with those who did not experience a merger or acquisition last year (40 percent),” it stated.

Biggest Concerns & Pay Gap

In other findings, the census found that in-house counsel, when complying with laws inside and outside their jurisdictions, faced the greatest challenges in the areas of:

• privacy (30 percent inside, 29 percent outside);

• cybersecurity (20 percent inside, 15 percent outside);

• corruption (8 percent inside, 14 percent outside); and

• competition (9 percent both inside and outside).


The report also noted that despite an increase in the number of women that participated in its 2015 census (49.5 percent compared to 41 percent in its 2011 poll), there continues to be a significant gender pay gap.

According to the survey, women were more likely to be paid lower base salaries, with 69 percent reporting earnings less than $200,000 compared to 56 percent of men who said they were paid in that range.

Consistent with this finding, men were also more likely to be paid in the higher ranges, with 13 percent reporting being paid in the $300,000 to $599,990 range, and 5 percent being paid over $600,000, compared to 7 percent and 2 percent of women, respectively.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Greene in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Yin Wilczek at

The survey is available at


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