If you want to be the most marketable attorney out there – the one who gets the most job offers (and later on in his or her career, the one who gets the most clients) – you need to have an up-to-date transaction sheet to send along with your resume. This holds true for attorneys in every practice area and includes litigators, corporate attorneys, real estate attorneys, and patent attorneys. It does not matter what you call your transaction sheet, but many litigators use the term “Representative Matters List” and transactional attorneys often use the term “Deal Sheet” or “Transaction Sheet.”
The goal of the transaction sheet is very simple – to provide prospective employers and clients with a more detailed account of your work history than can be gleaned from your resume alone. Your transaction sheet should list the major cases or deals that you have worked on, or patents that you have helped to secure, and thereby accentuate your resume with concrete examples of what you have accomplished in your legal career.
The reason these sheets are so important is due to the fact that they not only show law firms what you have worked on, they also show potential employers your enthusiasm for the subject matter that they are working on. The more enthusiastic you come across, the more warmly your resume is likely to be received. Moreover, the process of preparing your transaction sheet will help you with interviews and client pitch sessions. Thinking about your past cases, deals and patent transactions will make you stronger in interviews by “freshening” your memory so you will be able to discuss your background with added detail and confidence.
Another benefit of a transaction sheet is that it can be used for rainmaking and client development purposes as well as job search purposes. Just as prospective employers want to understand what you have done so too do prospective clients. It is never too early in your career to begin rainmaking and having a professional up-to-date transaction sheet will assist you in client development activities.
A bit further down in this article we give you actual examples of the kind of entries you can put on your transaction sheet. You should also take a look at these real world resumes that the professional resume writers at BCG Attorney Search and its sister company Attorney Resume have worked on with clients. As you prepare your transaction sheet, we encourage you to take the opportunity to review your resume to ensure it is as effective as it can be.
There is no set formula for organizing your transaction sheet. The key is to come up with a structure that meets the objective of highlighting your accomplishments with concrete examples in a way that makes sense given your career and goals. Generally speaking, anything high profile or high value (in terms of dollar amount or legal issues involved) should go near the top. You are trying to impress your reader and being involved in high stakes matters is impressive.
You can also group information by kinds of cases or deals. For example, if you are a litigator with a number of wins in both copyright cases and general commercial litigation, you can cluster your cases under those topical areas. You can also group your matters by the type of court (for example, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States District Courts, and State Courts). Similarly, a transactional lawyer might list his or her major deals under the headings Secured Lending (listing credit agreements) and Structured Finance (listing asset securitization transactions).
You can also group matters or deals by the different firms where you worked or even chronologically.
Whatever organizational structure you choose, it should be have an internal coherency and include all your most impressive work. Someone should be able to glance at the list and within a few seconds understand that you have a proven track record of success in specific areas of law.
Length and Format
There is no set page limit for a transaction sheet, but we generally recommend that it not exceed one page. Because you will be circulating your transaction sheet along with your resume, you should use consistent formatting and fonts in both documents.
Special Considerations for Mid-Level Attorneys
Transaction sheets are not just for partners. If you have enough years of experience to have amassed significant accomplishments in law then you should have a transaction sheet. You just want to ensure that you accurately portray your role in the matters and deals you describe so that the reader will not mistakenly assume your were the “lead” attorney in a given situation (first chair in a trial or the partner-in-charge of a big deal).
You can make appropriate modifications as follows:
Successfully defended international consumer products manufacturer in class action alleging products liability and misrepresentation causes of action.
A more junior attorney can put
Assisted in successful defense of international consumer products manufacturer in class action alleging products liability and misrepresentation causes of action; responsibilities included participating in all phases of discovery, defending key depositions, and preparing pretrial documents.
Represented global financial institution as arranger and administrative agent for $300,000,000 syndicated loan to leading international e-commerce company.
A more junior attorney can put
Assisted in representing global financial institution as arranger and administrative agent for $300,000,000 syndicated loan to leading international e-commerce company; responsible for drafting, reviewing and revising revolving credit agreement as well as security documents.
When it comes to client matters, you must always be mindful of confidentiality issues. But being an ethical and responsible attorney does not mean that you necessarily need to keep everything secret for all time. If a case or deal you worked on has become public or has been documented in any type of media (including your firm’s website), you should be able to use the information, including the names of the parties. If a court case you worked on is a reported case then you can use the party names and you should also include the citation.
However, if you are unsure, simply err on the side of caution by using the more generic language in the examples below. You can still describe substantive work product without naming specific people or entities.
Transaction Sheet Examples
What follows are some examples of how a litigator or a transactional lawyer can craft his or her transaction sheet. These are only examples, and if you are in a practice area like patents where these specific examples do not apply, you can still get the idea of how to approach a transaction sheet with the goal of highlighting your work history with concrete examples.
Representative Matters List (for litigators)
If you have published cases, you can list your cases in the following manner:
R.E. Martinez Corp. v. United States, No. 88-5127, 539 F.2d 192; 1992 U.S. App. LEXIS 1536; 9-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) P22, 314; 168 A.F.T.R.2d (RIA) 2218 (2d Cir. 1993)
United States District Court
Manufacturers’ Local No. 200 Health Care Fund v. Manufacturers’ Local No. 14 Health Care Fund, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1124 (N.D.N.Y. 2000)
In re Himalaya F. Corp., 86 B.R. 957; 1987 Bankr. LEXIS 104 (N.D.N.Y. 1988)
You can also be more descriptive in your entries, whether or not you use actual case names. For example:
Supreme Court Cases
Nebraska v. P.O., 409 U.S. 211 (2000). Rejected proposition that there is a gun exception to the reasonable suspicion test to Fourth Amendment Terry stop; however, Court recognized when there is a clear and present societal danger, less reliable facts are needed to support a stop.
Nebraska v. Pimento, 210 U.S. 198 (1991). Established rule of law that the scope of Fourth Amendment consent searches are governed by the same standards as probable cause searches and that the search entails all locations in which the item sought may reasonably be found.
Selected Cases From Other Courts
State v. Spangler, 230 So.2d 642 (Neb. 1994). Upheld constitutionality of the Hate Crime Statute from First Amendment challenge.
Broughton v. State, 179 So.2d 105 (Neb. 1995). Upheld constitutionality of the Stalking Statute from vagueness and overbreadth challenge.
Gained swift and substantial settlement in civil matter. Represented class of beneficiaries to a Florida trust in which another class of beneficiaries was dispersing assets contrary to the terms of the trust. Won summary judgment motion tracing bank accounts, motor vehicles, and real estate in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina back to the trust. Matter settled shortly thereafter, including payment of clients’ sizable legal fees.
Handled age discrimination lawsuit. Represented a class of plaintiffs in an age discrimination case against a large, publicly traded company, arguing that they were targeted for layoff due to their perceived proximity to retirement age. Matter settled favorably for a confidential amount.
Secured multi-million dollar verdict on behalf of oil and gas company executive in sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit.
Won summary judgment on behalf of defendant motion picture studio in high-profile copyright infringement action involving rights to reality television show.
Deal Sheet (for transactional lawyers)
A deal sheet is essentially the same as a representative case list. In it, you want to briefly discuss the type of transaction, your role in it, and the outcome. You should also provide dollar amounts whenever possible to give the employer an idea of the level of the transaction. Here are some examples:
Junet Inc. Represented the underwriter in a $325-million 144A debt offering by Suburbia Cellular, a national cell phone service provider (2003).
Learningville. Assisted client, a telecommunications company that provides online educational services, in establishing a wholly foreign-owned enterprise in connection with Learningville’s partnership with Synet to provide Internet services to more than 1,000 universities in China (2003).
The R.A.K. Taipei Fund. Advised the NASDAQ-listed investment company and drafted “fight letters” to SEC in a proxy contest in which a dissident shareholder submitted proposals to terminate the investment advisory contract and convert the trust to an open-end investment fund. The client prevailed convincingly at the annual meeting of shareholders (2002-2003).
Corporate Resources and Securities Service Center. Assisted pro bono client in incorporating his Harlem-based business and assisted him in negotiating a commercial lease to set up the operations (2003).
If you are listing a fair amount of transactions, it is advisable to group them by transaction type, as in the following example:
Mergers & Acquisitions
The Lionhead Group, Inc., The Lionhead Group, Inc. (NYSE, commercial finance company with $50 billion in managed assets) in its acquisition of Oldtown Credit Group Inc. in the largest U.S.-Canadian acquisition transaction of 2000, valued at $5.3 billion.
Centrale Renfersen-Beranlienbank B.A. (“Renbobank”). Represented Renbobank (global Swiss bank with total assets of EUR $344 billion) in its acquisition of Bay Capital, valued at $476 million.
ICN AMPA Bank. Represented ICN AMPA (global Swiss bank with total assets of EUR $523 billion) in its acquisition of Trust Leasing, valued at $122 million.
The Lionhead Group, Inc. Represented The Lionhead Group, Inc. in a secondary offering of 45,000,000 shares of its common stock, valued at $1.6 billion. Lynch Securities. Represented Lynch Securities (global investment division of Merrill-Lynch Financial with total assets $556 billion), lead underwriter, in an initial public offering of common stock of Coastal Wireless Technologies, Inc., valued at $99 million (Transaction abandoned).
Cisnos Inc. Represented selling shareholders of Cisnos (NASDQ – internationally-based business intelligence and performance planning software company) in a secondary offering of 3,600,000 shares, valued at $63 million.
You can also be more general in your descriptions, as in the following examples:
Represented sponsor of $1.5 billion water and power plant project in East Africa.
Represented nationwide hospitality company in its $650 million senior subordinated notes offering.
Represented Fortune 500 company in its $400 million acquisition of leading natural pet food manufacturer, making client one of top revenue-makers in the pet products industry.
Represented private equity fund in its significant minority investment in new media company based in the U.K.
Additional Transaction Sheet Examples
Representative Corporate, M&A and Private Equity Transactions
Hospitality Suites International, in its $4.5 billion acquisition by Starwood Hotels
Satellite Holdings LP, in its $2 billion acquisition by Aerospace Group International
Castle Broadcasting, in its $3.3 billion acquisition by ATX Media
IVS Capital Corporation, in the sale of its credit card processing businesses to BankSafe Allied, valued at $2.4 billion
HR Capital Ventures, in its sale of Sector Financial to Halo Capital Funding, valued at $1.7 billion
Board of Directors of Consolidated Coal, in the company's $4 billion acquisition by Energy Solutions and Resources
Board of Directors of The Home and Hearth Company, in the company's $2 billion acquisition by Living Sphere, Inc.
The Independent Directors of Natures Pharmaceuticals, in the $3.5 billion leveraged buyout by Med Fund Partners
Endroit, in its successful takeover defense against Capshaw Labs' $10 billion hostile bid
Ratterson, in its sale of a 51.5% interest in Blue Grass Equipment to an investor group including Celestial Capital Partners
Cedar Tree Ventures, in its acquisition of the outstanding minority interests in Cedar Tree Asset Management
XYZ Media, in its $65 million joint venture with Vista for ownership of cable channels and pay-per-view networks
Alliance Networks, in its proposed acquisition by Hercules Global Asset Management (terminated)
Cedar Tree Fund III, in its acquisition of Crescent Financial and subsequent sale to Finance Solutions United
Serengeti Capital, in its acquisition of West Coast Gaming from Marble Capital
RO investors (Mexico), in its acquisition of Ciudad-Metro Bank Group
SRT Infraestructura and Churchill Infrastructure Funders, in the acquisition of the majority equity interests in a solar power project under development in Mexico
Representative Capital Markets Transactions
Lead underwriters in connection with $550 million registered initial public offering of class A common stock for Common Good Hospitals.
Lead underwriters in connection with $400 million initial public offering of Performance Ventures.
Underwriting group in connection with $435 million initial public offering of Most Media and over $2 billion of secondary offerings of common stock (including simultaneous secondary and stock repurchase).
Lead underwriters in $1.2 billion registered mandatory convertible preferred stock offering, $1 billion registered common stock offering, and $6 billion registered high?yield senior debt offering of Renegade Industrials.
Lead underwriters in connection with $325 million Rule 144A/Reg. S high?yield senior debt offering of AspenCompany.
Underwriters in $500 million 144A/Reg. S senior debt offering of Alliance Systems Technology.
Republic Financial in connection with its issuance of $350 million of investment?grade senior notes.
Canning, Inc. in connection with its issuance of $150 million of common stock and $250 million of investment?grade senior notes.
Representative Secured Lending Transactions
Agent and arranger of $1.7 billion of credit facilities provided to Anderson Media to finance acquisition of Latin American radio stations.
Agent and arranger of $1.2 billion of bridge credit facilities provided to Bibbing Consolidated and Midwest Industrials to finance their merger.
Agent and arrangers of a $450 million senior secured credit facility to Lightsource, Inc.
Transport Lines, Inc. in a $350 million senior secured credit facility to provide working capital.
Escapades in a $250 million senior secured credit facility to provide working capital.
Representative Real Estate Transactions
Counsel to Retirement Systems of Alabama in the acquisition and development of a master-planned 270 acre upscale condominium and single-family subdivision complex in Fairhope, Alabama
Coordinated review of real estate matters for 35 separate restaurant properties as collateral for a $38,000,000 syndicated loan to a national barbeque restaurant chain
Regularly represents a national bank headquartered in Birmingham with the sale and conveyance of foreclosed commercial properties throughout the United States (negotiated and closed the sale of over 45 properties within the last 24 months, including $17,500,000 sale of a shopping center in Miami, Florida and $18,000,000 sale of an apartment complex in suburban Atlanta, Georgia)
Regularly represents a private for-profit, post-secondary educational institution in the purchase, sale, financing and leasing of its campuses throughout the United States, including the development of six build-to-suit leasing projects over the past 24 months
Counsel to national developer of Dollar General stores for the acquisition and development of over 100 separate retail sites throughout the United States
Counsel to a national real estate investment management company for the purchase and sale of multifamily properties throughout the United States
Representative Commercial Lending and Public Finance Transactions
Bond counsel on an economic development project in Perry County, Alabama which financed a hotel development with tax-exempt recovery zone development bonds
Counsel to one of the nation's largest delegated underwriting service lenders to Fannie Mae for the financing of multifamily properties throughout the United States
Lender's counsel on privately placed $14,000,000 variable rate revenue bond issued by a governmental utility services corporation for the benefit of a private water and sewer developer and operator in Alabama
Bank counsel for multiple credit facilities to a nonprofit educational corporation for a capital project secured by various state and federal grants allocated out of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Bond counsel on $50,000,000 revenue bond transaction to finance certain hospital improvements for an Alabama healthcare provider
Representative Affordable Housing Transactions
Regularly represents the Alabama Housing Finance Authority as lender's counsel with respect to its HOME Investment Partnerships Program loans (closed 35 HOME loans over a 5 year span, totaling approximately $49 million in developer financing)
Represented the Authority with its implementation and administration of financing programs created out of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 such as its Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP) and Tax Credit Exchange Program (TCEP)(closed 10 TCAP loans and 14 TCEP equity grants, totaling approximately $27.9 million and $42.4 million, respectively, in developer financing)
Authority counsel on $9,795,250 TCEP equity grant, in conjunction with HOPE VI funding, for construction and permanent financing to a single-purpose limited partnership controlled by the Huntsville Housing Authority for a multifamily "mixed-finance" public housing and low-income housing development in Huntsville, Alabama
Special bond counsel to national bank headquartered in Birmingham for the conversion and refinancing of certain variable rate demand obligations (totaling approximately $25 million in developer financing) from publicly held to privately placed for the benefit of five separate multifamily affordable housing developments in Arkansas and Mississippi
If you have been a practicing lawyer for even a few years, it is time to put your transaction sheet together. This should be a fun project – allowing you to “take stock” of your accomplishments and career.
If you are a litigator, think back on the major lawsuits and trials you have worked on. If you are a transactional lawyer, take a look at the closing binders in your bookcase and tombstones on your credenza. How about all those patents you helped secure? You did all that! You helped produce something real for a client, whether it was a courtroom victory or a financial transaction or a patent. With that inspiration in mind, simply put pen to paper and describe these accomplishments so you can show future employers and clients what your have done for others and what you can do for them.
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