Aspiring business lawyers Yoonhyun Cho and Stanis Xavier, both Law’22, are getting a jump start on mergers and acquisitions in a new online experiential learning opportunity. Helping them master their negotiation skills to prepare them for competitions are senior practitioners. 

“This is a wonderful initiative from LawMeets, especially given the impact COVID-19 has had on summer opportunities for law students” says Professor Mohamed Khimji, Director of the Business Law Program at Queen’s. “Thanks to the generosity of the Class of 1980, 17 our students are benefiting from a high-value and practical learning experience in an important practice area.”

Two of those students are Stanis Xavier and Yoonhyun Cho, both Law’22. “As an incoming 2L student, I was really looking to gain some familiarity within the business law domain,” says Xavier. “I felt that this particular boot camp was capable of developing a variety of client-oriented skills that would serve me well in any professional setting.” 

For his M&A teammate, Cho, the Boot Camp offered “a great place” to start his journey as an aspiring transactional lawyer. “While every lawyer needs a deep level of expertise in the law, I believe that transactional lawyers must understand both the business and legal sides of a transaction to function effectively,” he says. “The online M&A Boot Camp has been designed precisely for this.”

Like 124 other teams of two students from across Canada and the U.S., Xavier and Cho are drafting, marking-up, and negotiating an acquisition agreement. In simulations, they interact with clients, senior lawyers, and opposing teams via video conference, email, and telephone.

“Being a part of the online M&A Boot Camp is a great opportunity to see first-hand what transactional work entails,” says Xavier. “I really enjoy being able to connect with students, professors, and legal practitioners who all bring in different, yet important perspectives on various legal matters.”

Students are learning many valuable lessons, and one stands out for Cho. “I learned to take a step back to really understand your client’s position,” he says. “In addition to being an active listener, this requires asking thorough and insightful questions to discover leverage points and flexibility. Walking into a negotiation with these fundamentals covered is the first and most significant step for success.” 

Among the senior lawyers passing on their deal-making “know-how” are four alumni: Richard Willoughby, Law’85, a partner with Torys LLP; Amelia Miao, Law’11, an associate with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP; and Michael Whitcombe, Law'85, and David Dunlop, Law’87, both partners with McMillan LLP.

Dunlop is supervising Xavier and Cho. “I thought the Boot Camp would be a good opportunity to share some of my M&A experience with our students,” says Dunlop. “They put a lot of thought and work into this program – my part was just a little extra assistance for them.” 

What does he have to say about his two mentees? “They’re great students and wonderful listeners who are genuinely interested in acquiring and applying some practical tools and experience to supplement the Queen’s Law curriculum.”

Indeed, they are. “Overall,” says Xavier, “I find that simulating the steps of a typical transaction is a great alternative to lecture-based learning as it challenges us to think on our feet while acting in our client’s best interest.”

By Lisa Graham