Life as a private equity lawyer can be relentless, between constantly assisting clients on everything from the raising and closing of funds to the purchasing and selling of portfolio companies. But in the rare case where your work isn’t flowing as usual, there are still ways to be productive.
Some days, you might come into the office to find that your agenda isn’t as full as you’re accustomed to, but experts say that downtime is the perfect excuse to accomplish the many things you normally don’t have time for, such as networking, reading up on the latest U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission guidelines or even reaching out to an old work associate whom you haven’t seen or heard from in months.
Here, Law360 looks at four ways private equity attorneys can keep busy during a lull in business.
Foster Client Relationships
At first glance, a stagnant marketplace may not seem advantageous, but gaps between big projects can enable attorneys to seek out new clients or a build on existing client relationships, which experts say is a critical aspect of the job that is sometimes underestimated during busy periods.
Keeping in touch with clients during a lull in your typical workload does more than just keep you busy, according to Howard Berkower, a partner with McCarter & English LLP’s corporate practice, who said that the right phone call to the right person at the right time could lead to new and different work that you wouldn’t have even realized was a possibility.
“Reach out to clients, see what’s going on,” he said. “See if they have any new concerns, see what’s keeping them up at night. You may be doing their transactional work, but maybe they have other work you aren’t doing.”
He added: “Spend time learning about the other types of legal services a client may have that you might be able to bring to your firm.”
Of course, attorneys shouldn’t limit themselves to reaching out to existing clients. During lengthy periods of spare time, they would be wise to seek out and begin the development of new client relationships.
One of the easiest ways to go about finding new clients is to seek out companies that are comparable to your existing clients, both in terms of the industries they work in and their size and scale, Berkower said.
“The best thing to do is to try and replicate what you’re doing for one client for a somewhat similarly situated potential client,” he said.
Focus on Networking
A lull in deals work is an opportunity to switch up a typical workday, according to experts, meaning that instead of sitting at your desk waiting for the to-do pile to grow, attorneys can attend networking events such as industry press conferences or conferences built around the businesses in which clients invest.
Berkower pointed to the importance of networking, saying that by getting out and talking with peers and rivals alike, attorneys may find that there is indeed work out there they weren’t previously privy to because they were stuck sitting behind their desks.
“Do more networking events and the like during downtime,” Berkower said. “See who’s doing deals, who’s looking to potentially do more acquisition work.”
One low-key way to network, Berkower said, is by going to LinkedIn and searching for funds that you believe would be a good fit for you and your firm’s practice.
“I’ll see whether I know anyone who might know someone that might be able to make an introduction,” he said.