The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Ayo Badejo, Partner—M&A and Private Equity
Ayo Badejo is a partner in the Sidley’s New York office and practices in the M&A and Private Equity group. Ayo concentrates his practice in corporate and securities matters, including mergers and acquisitions, corporate structuring activities, and corporate governance. Ayo represents emerging growth companies, private equity firms, and Fortune 500 companies in a broad range of industries—including banking, financial services, health care, and manufacturing—in complex transactions as well as in support of their day-to-day operations.
Ayo was featured as a “Rising Star” by The Deal in its “Top 21 New M&A Law Partners” list, which identifies the most promising new M&A partners of 2019.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
I advise clients on a variety of corporate transaction and governance matters. My primary focus is public and private M&A, minority investments, and corporate governance.
What types of clients do you represent?
My clients include private equity sponsors, portfolio companies, sovereign wealth funds, investment funds, and financial institutions.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
I represent a wide range of buyers and sellers in M&A transactions and parties to joint ventures in a variety of industries, including real estate, fintech, communications, consumer products, and technology.
How did you choose this practice area?
As a summer associate, I selected assignments in a number of different practice areas, including intellectual property, securities litigation, antitrust, and corporate transactions. I enjoyed most of the assignments but felt that my skill set and personality were best suited for corporate transactions. As I began to practice, I gravitated toward M&A and joint ventures.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
There are no typical days in my practice. M&A is a demanding and dynamic industry. It requires business professionals and legal practitioners to process information quickly and respond to evolving terms under demanding conditions. Keeping up with the pace of the industry requires consistent contact with clients—which is one of the best parts of the job. Much of my days are spent on the phone and on email, helping clients to respond to the challenges and the complexity inherent in the industry. I also spend a considerable amount of time mentoring associates. An incredible network of mentors helped shape my legal career and supported my ascension to partnership at Sidley. It is a pleasure and, I believe, my duty to help our associates develop in their careers at Sidley.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
Certain law school classes, such as federal taxation, securities law, corporations, and secured transactions, can provide a helpful foundation to corporate practice. I also recommend that law students take classes at business school, especially corporate finance and accounting. In M&A/PE, we often work directly for business professionals. Understanding the lingo, methods, and motivations of business professional clients is key to successful client relationships.
What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?
Sidley clients often come to us with complex and novel issues. Unpacking complex requests and providing clients with workable solutions are the most challenging and rewarding parts of the practice.
What do you like best about your practice area?
The opportunity to work with attorneys in multiple practice areas. On any given M&A transaction, we will have attorneys that focus on tax, finance, litigation, real estate, intellectual property, import/export, data protection/privacy, and industry areas participate on the transaction. On buy-side transactions, these attorneys are asked to vet acquisition targets to determine potential risks and help prepare the buyer to integrate the target into its operations. This process routinely exposes me to cutting-edge issues, which—in turn—allows me to help advise clients on potential legal issues as they arise in other contexts.
What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?
Junior associate tasks vary widely. On large M&A transactions, junior associates draft ancillary documents, prepare closing documents, conduct due diligence, coordinate client requests, and prepare and review schedules. However, associates are generally given work commensurate with their ability. Once a junior associate is ready to handle more difficult tasks, we strive to give them the opportunity to do so.
How do you deal with the fast-paced nature of your work in M&A, especially given the high stakes for your client?
Dealing with the pace of M&A takes teamwork and coordination. On large M&A transactions, there is too much work for any attorney to handle alone. Each team member has to work in coordination to quickly respond to client demands. I lean heavily on our associates to help build and organize the legal team and find that our associates always rise to the task.