“The Structure of MA Contracts”—Now Available!

[Updated January 11, 2012: The price is now $39, and instead of being in PDF, the book is now available only on ProView, West’s ebook format. You can purchase it by going to this page of the Westlaw store.]

[Updated 5;00 p.m., February 14, 2011: After problems last week and this morning, West LegalEdcenter’s phones are now fully manned. If someone doesn’t immediately pick up your call, you’ll be put on hold for one minute, after which you’ll be asked if you want to leave a message to be called back. West has assured me that they respond to such messages promptly. Alternatively, you could call back later. I’m sorry that currently the only way to obtain the book is by phone; West is new to PDF-only. At some point I expect it to be available by download.]

West has now published my new PDF-only book The Structure of M&A Contracts. The gestation period was a long one—six years—so it’s gratifying to have it out there at long last.

It’s a very different book from MSCD, but I’d like to think that it’s just as innovative and practical. It includes a foreword by Steven Davidoff, the New York Times’s “Deal Professor.” And I’m delighted to be able to offer the following testimonials:

This book will quickly become a go-to reference for anyone in the M&A agreement business. Not only is it one of the clearest and most practical guides to drafting agreements that work, it also provokes and advances the art with suggestions for improving current standards, many of which I believe will be adopted over time. The book is deserving of the highest praise I can bestow—I learned something from it.

Michael J. Kendall, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP

Ken Adams has once again produced a work that is both thought-provoking and worthwhile. I highly recommend The Structure of M&A Contracts to anyone who has an interest in drafting better contracts.

Michael A. Woronoff, Partner, Proskauer

You can find more information on this page of West LegalEdcenter’s website, including the first chapter for free. But the following extract from the preface will give you a good sense of the book:

This book considers the function of the different categories of provisions in a mergers-and-acquisitions (or M&A) contract and the interplay among them. These are topics worthy of study: A slight change of phrasing in one part of a contract can have important implications for other parts of the contract. And issues relating to contract structure arise routinely in M&A negotiations.

This book is intended for anyone who wishes to understand the structure of M&A contracts. That obviously includes junior lawyers—they’re the ones who do most of the drafting of M&A contracts. And they could certainly use some help. Many junior lawyers receive little formal training in the structure of M&A contracts, and what instruction they do receive likely features a generous helping of stale conventional wisdom. And the convulsions of the U.S. legal profession in recent years have made it less likely that a junior lawyer will receive meaningful mentoring. This book should help junior lawyers take control of the drafting process, instead of regurgitating precedent contracts of questionable quality and relevance. It should also help them understand what’s going on during negotiations.

Senior lawyers who have the time and inclination to revisit how they handle the structure of M&A contracts should also find this book useful. And because other kinds of contracts—such as securities purchase agreements and loan agreements—can exhibit a structure comparable to that of M&A contracts, this book might be of interest to anyone involved in transactions featuring an interval between signing and closing.

The benefits of a clearer understanding of how to structure an M&A contract go beyond making life easier for the drafter. If those doing the drafting and reviewing have a better grasp of the subject, contracts would be clearer and would address the parties’ concerns more effectively; negotiations would be more efficient and less contentious; and disputes would arise less frequently.

Others have written about the structure of M&A contracts, but five features serve to distinguish this book. First, its limited scope permits a more cohesive treatment than would be possible in a broader work. Second, rather than simply cataloguing the structures—good, bad, and indifferent—on display in M&A contracts, it identifies those that work best. Third, it specifies what contract language you should use in a given context and what contract language you should avoid; the recommended language complies with the guidelines contained in the author’s A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. Fourth, it presents some of its analysis in a series of figures, so as to make it easier to understand. And fifth, it doesn’t hesitate to depart from the conventional wisdom.

For now, the book is available only by calling West at (800) 328-9352. At $25, it’s an utter bargain. And check out the volume discounts.

I hope the PDF format proves acceptable. If I were reading it, I’d read a printout, given the intricacy of the topic (and given that I don’t have an iPad). The book is just over 100 pages, so printing a copy should prove no problem. But even if you read a printout, the hyperlinks, searchability, and other features of a PDF should prove an enhancement.

Happy reading!

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.