The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault’s Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Jeremy D. London, Partner—Corporate
Jeremy London represents acquirers, targets and financial advisors in significant transactions, including public and private acquisitions and divestitures, negotiated and contested public acquisitions, and other corporate matters. He also counsels sellers, private equity firms and management in leveraged buyout transactions and firm clients in joint ventures and other strategic alliances.
Jeremy has repeatedly has been selected for inclusion in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. He also was named as one of Law360’s Health MVPs in 2015 and The American Lawyer’s 2015 Dealmakers of the Year.
Jeremy is a graduate of The George Washington University School of Law and the University of Michigan.
Please provide an overview of what, substantively, your practice area entails.
My practice is mainly comprised of M&A transactions, both public and private. This includes acquisitions, divestitures (including auctions), unsolicited transactions and hostile defense work, joint ventures, and advising boards of directors in consideration of strategic alternatives, among other things. I also regularly counsel clients on SEC reporting, corporate governance and general corporate advice.
What types of clients do you represent?
I represent public and private clients across numerous industries, including foreign and domestic corporations, from start-ups to Fortune500 companies, private equity firms and financial advisors. Industry-wise, I tend to concentrate on health care, real estate and energy transactions. Recent clients I have represented include Sprint, SunEdison in its bankruptcy case, Centene, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, The Advisory Board Company, Forestar Group and Goldman Sachs. The firm is committed to ensuring that associates have exposure to a wide variety of clients.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
I work on complex acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures involving public and private companies. These can be small transactions involving companies you haven’t heard of previously, or household names where the transaction is covered on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. A recent example is The Advisory Board Company (a public company based in DC) in its review of strategic alternatives resulting in a $1.4 billion sale of its health care business to UnitedHealth and a $1.5 billion sale of its education business to Vista Equity Partners. I also recently advised Sprint in its acquisition by SoftBank and related acquisition of the public shares of Clearwire Corporation.
How did you decide to practice in your area?
Largely by accident! I was a summer associate at Skadden in 1996. I had a few practice areas in mind, but knew very little about any of them and even less about which direction would be right for me. I worked on a few assignments with the M&A Group and was hooked. I enjoyed the pacing and the mix of advocacy and collaboration among the various constituents.
What is a typical day or week like in your practice area?
There really is no typical day or week in my practice, which makes being an M&A lawyer at Skadden so interesting. One thing that is typical is that more often than not, your day can change course very quickly. Whether it’s an urgent phone call from a client, a new issue on an existing deal or helping other partners and associates at the firm, no day goes as planned. But typical tasks include reviewing agreements and other work product drafted by associates, talking to clients, attending board meetings and negotiating with counterparties.
What is the best thing about your practice area?
The variety. Every deal is different and has its own constellation of participants—our client, the opposing principal, opposing counsel, financial and other advisors, and even other partners and associates at the firm. As the M&A lawyer on the transaction, you are at the center of the action and learn something new on every deal.
What is the most challenging aspect of your practice area?
One of the biggest challenges can often be the frenzied pace of the deal. M&A transactions move at light speed, and there is a premium on quick execution. But I always remind the team that while our work typically ends at closing, for our clients the real work is just beginning. They are buying or selling a business and what we do in the deal has real world implications for them after we are long gone. It can be a challenge to cover every base but that is what also makes it exciting and creates opportunities for our associates.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
There is no substitute for the real-world experience that our M&A associates gain while practicing at Skadden. We supplement this experience with comprehensive training, including numerous in-house seminars and interactive programs. There are also a growing number of corporate transactional seminars that law schools offer, which I would encourage students to take advantage of, especially those taught by practitioners. Lastly, it’s worthwhile to take classes in related practice areas such as tax, antitrust, and benefits and compensation. While you won’t be expected to be the expert in those areas, understanding the basic concepts is invaluable.
What misconceptions exist about your practice area? What do you wish you had known before joining your practice area?
A common misconception is that you need a strong business background or acumen to succeed in or enjoy the practice. I was an English major and fit neither of those criteria. Many successful M&A practitioners have similar stories. I wish I had known the importance of ongoing networking as a junior associate. Building a professional network from day one gives associates a big leg up.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm, and how has it evolved since you have been at the firm?
The M&A practice touches every other practice at the firm. I can honestly say that after 20-plus years, I have worked meaningfully with every other practice area in the firm. Whether it’s because we need particular subject matter experience on a deal, like health care regulatory, or because a deal is challenged in court so litigators need to get involved, we intersect with all practice areas and geographies. It’s evolved in that we have tools and resources to identify the best attorney for the job. We truly live the “one firm” mantra and our associates are pleasantly surprised how early in their career they will be working with others in a completely different practice and in another office.
What activities do you enjoy when you are not in the office, and how do you make time for them?
I enjoy spending time with my family, live music, golf and watching my beloved Michigan Wolverines. Carving out time for yourself is important and just takes planning and communication. Skadden is filled with talented lawyers who can hold down the fort until you return!