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The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.

Mei Dan is a partner in Weil's Corporate Department based in the firm’s Silicon Valley office. Mei represents financial and strategic clients in various acquisition transactions, including public and private mergers and acquisitions, venture capital investments, and cross-border matters. She also advises on general corporate and transactional matters, including financings. Mei earned her J.D. from New York University School of Law in 2009. 

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

My practice is made up of deals, deals, deals. As part of Weil’s Private Equity and M&A practice, I represent corporate clients in acquisitions, divestitures, asset sales and carve-outs, joint ventures, and investments. Our team advises clients as they investigate possible targets for acquisition, undergo the diligence process, and until the transaction closes. When clients look to Weil, they’re entrusting our firm to handle their most significant, complex M&A deals and strategic investments. When it’s critical to get a deal done not only correctly but effectively, that’s when our clients turn to us. 

What types of clients do you represent?

I think that my role at Weil is exciting because I closely advise both private equity funds and large multinational corporations. Weil works with some of the largest private equity funds in the world, and I’ve specifically represented Genstar, TPG Inc., and Sumeru Equity Partners, to name a few. In terms of large companies, Weil’s clients are often household names engaging in massive M&A deals. I’ve recently worked with companies like Getty Images, Chevron, and Giant Eagle, among others.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

The types of deals I work on are varied, but all interesting and nuanced in unique ways. I represent private equity clients in leveraged buyout transactions, for instance, where they acquire companies using a mix of equity and debt. I’ve also represented Getty Images in their de-SPAC transaction. And recently, I worked on a transaction in which Weil represented a consortium of investors navigating management changes in their existing investments. The complexity of each deal means that I’m always learning about novel aspects of my clients’ businesses. Even now as a partner, each day brings something new. 

How did you choose this practice area?

I spent four years working in Weil’s Banking practice group before ultimately deciding to practice within private equity and M&A. The experience I gained there was fundamental, and the switch was a big decision at the time. I really enjoy what I’m doing now because, as a private equity and M&A attorney, I can dive deep into diligence regarding new companies and technologies on the cutting edge. We dig in to learn about how a business functions and what the key components are. For someone who is naturally curious, it’s an enjoyable puzzle. You slowly begin to piece together the different parts of a company and figure out how it fits into a transaction. I find the problem-solving element of my work very fulfilling.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Every day is genuinely different. One morning, we may start with our team on a call with opposing counsel to negotiate a purchase agreement. Then, my focus may shift to working with Weil colleagues through the complicated cross-border tax issues of a potential transaction, for instance. As part of Weil’s corporate team, you must be keyed into a transaction's moving parts. That holistic view is vital to ensuring success for our clients. I particularly like that Weil attorneys are so well integrated with each other and seek out opportunities for collaboration. We all agree that is the best way to support clients in each aspect of their deal throughout a transaction’s lifecycle.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

In any profession—especially in law—it’s essential to learn how to take ownership of your work, be proactive, and be willing to jump into any new project. Weil provides associates with several professional development opportunities, but no class can teach someone how to come to work prepared to contribute to their team. At Weil, we encourage our young associates to cultivate that desire by expecting them to engage with challenging assignments and ask questions. At the same time, we also understand that it’s our job to provide them with appropriate coaching and supervision. That mentorship model is irreplaceable. A lot of development takes place on the job, so it’s crucial to choose a firm like Weil that prioritizes the training and mentoring of its associates.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I enjoy that private equity and M&A is a team sport. In any transaction, clients need the advice of tax, intellectual property, employment, regulatory, antitrust, real estate, and finance attorneys, among others. I appreciate that Weil intentionally cultivates such a deep bench of knowledgeable subject matter experts who are eager to collaborate across the board. We also aim to be our clients' strategic business partners and intentionally cultivate that relationship. Both internally and externally, we all make each other’s work better. At the end of the day, that sense of teamwork allows us to deliver the best possible outcome and makes the job much more fulfilling.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Associates in Weil’s corporate practice actually get a significant amount of face time with our clients. The ability to communicate with them effectively is vital. If an associate can identify what the client needs to know and determine how best to convey that information promptly and clearly, that will enable them to succeed in this area. Especially when presented with large amounts of complex information—and frequently related to unfamiliar sectors or technologies—learning how to distill details down to the most salient points is a large part of an associate’s day-to-day work.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

I was a 2009 Weil summer associate and had an excellent experience. Weil’s summer program strikes what I think is a uniquely strong balance between ensuring that summer associates gain substantive work opportunities to illuminate what a Weil career looks like and also providing the social and networking opportunities that are the hallmarks of the summer experience. Particularly in Silicon Valley, the size of Weil’s office allows young associates to interact directly with senior associates and partners. Learning happens on the job, so the informal mentoring opportunities or observational experiences that summer associates gain here are irreplaceable.

How important is it to understand your client’s business, and how can junior attorneys gain this insight?

At Weil, we aim to understand every aspect of a client’s business. Internalizing that mentality and being well prepared to jump in is vital. Especially as a corporate attorney, you learn by doing. Ensuring that you’re intentional in paying attention, engaging in conversations, and asking appropriate questions is critical as a young associate. Working on your piece of a transaction, listening in on client phone calls, reading relevant industry publications, and being intellectually curious will put you on the right path and, over time, the big picture will come into focus.