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When Compliance meets M&A – The New Demand in Legal Search

Posted by: Stephanie Greaves 28/02/19

We might not be accustomed to seeing these two skills juxtaposed in a job description, but this is starting to change. Candidates who have experience of the life cycle of an M&A deal, with an acute awareness of risk and the relevant compliance framework, are likely to be in high demand in the coming years.  Whilst on the surface compliance and M&A may appear to be a ‘chalk and cheese’ combination – the caricature of which would be the meeting of the measured, risk-averse professional versus the business driven, adrenaline junkie M&A lawyer- the reality is that the coexistence of these skills under one role, will be a huge business asset, particularly within the contexts of the DOJ’s (US Department of Justice) 2018 announcement to extend their FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy to M&A deals.  In this landscape of high vigilance to conducting business in an ethical way, having a Group compliance/M&A specialist is far from an extravagance for a company operating internationally.

It is becoming clearer that a Group’s commitment to compliance is increasingly a business advantage, and introducing compliance from the due diligence phase onwards is simply the most effective and thorough way of managing risk, but also demonstrating the compliance culture of a Company.  Is there a new career opportunity here?

For those of us operating and interacting with compliance professionals, many thrive on their proximity to the business, increasingly operate as business partners, and need to be proactive in their function.  When a lawyer works on a transaction, similar qualities are required, and the necessity to be thorough, detail-orientated and curious is vital, particularly as stakes are so high.  With this in mind, if an M&A lawyer has an interest in anti-bribery issues, it is possible they will have the right skills to draw on in order to develop an expertise in compliance within the context of M&A deals. For a compliance generalist operating in a broader compliance function, working in close proximity with the M&A function will provide a unique insight into the Group strategy, access to top management, tangible tasks and objectives, and the thrill of working towards challenging deadlines.

The gap between shifting legislation and the existence of specialised training in the compliance field, has created a demand that is significantly higher than the availability of qualified candidates with the right soft skills to drive the compliance function.  Lawyers who decide to combine transactional experience with strong compliance reflexes will be one step ahead, with niche expertise extremely valuable to ambitious multinationals.   Similarly, companies that will not make these appointments, could not only expose themselves to a high level of risk, but also potentially curb growth ambitions through lack of confidence in their existing compliance resources.

Therefore to those candidates with a legal corporate background or a specialisation in anti-corruption, expanding your skill set in order to meet these needs can provide steady and exciting career prospects in the future.


If you already have such a skill set and wish to have a confidential chat, please do get in touch. Stephanie.Greaves@laurencesimons.com

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