March 7, 2022

Securities Lawyers’ Survey: Who Holds the Pen?

This recent article by Bloomberg Law’s Preston Brewer analyzes the results of a survey of in-house & outside securities and capital markets lawyers concerning allocation of drafting responsibilities.  The survey suggests that in-house and outside counsel are usually on the same page when it comes to who should take the lead role in drafting documents, but this excerpt says that there are also some interesting areas of divergence:

Law firm attorneys overwhelmingly see due diligence request lists (68%) and term sheets (68%) as duties within their purview, while 62% of in-house respondents said they would keep due diligence lists in-house—and a full 75% of them view preparation of term sheets as a task for in-house counsel.

Less dramatically, substantially more outside counsel said they would assign themselves securities offering documents (a margin of 15 percentage points for SEC Form S-1 registration statements and private placement memoranda). For closing checklists, an astounding 100% of law firm attorney respondents would give the work to themselves versus 82% of in-house counsel choosing to assign that work to outside attorneys.

I don’t know about you folks, but speaking for myself, if an in-house colleague offered to take drafting responsibility for due diligence requests & term sheets for deals that we were working on, they would immediately move into the LARGE holiday gift basket category.

The survey found that 41% of respondents said they expect more work to go to outside counsel over the next five years, while 20% expected more work to go to inside counsel & 39% expected the mix to remain the same. That number surprises me, given the high & ever-increasing level of expertise among corporate law departments – although it may be a bit skewed by the fact that 28 of the 47 survey respondents were law firm lawyers.

The survey has a bunch of other interesting material in it involving both private and public companies, and one of the biggest takeaways is that both outside and in-house securities lawyers are pretty optimistic about the future of their practice. Attorneys feel strongly that corporate practice and securities law is a growth industry for both law firms and in-house counsel. The survey says that 70% expect increased activity in private company work, and more than half expect growth in private equity and public company representations.

John Jenkins