What should a deal sheet look like?

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Suzanne Dupree Howe

I'm a corporate attorney with five years of experience. I've been hearing that I should put together a "Deal Sheet" to accompany my resume, but I don't really know what that is or how it should look.


If you have been practicing for two or more years and have gained some substantial, varied experience, then it is time to consider putting together a Deal Sheet or "List of Representative Transactions." A Deal Sheet is a compact, succinct compendium of the deals an attorney has worked on with headings. A deal sheet serves the attorney by organizing his or her practice into defined categories that help elucidate where an attorney's specific area of expertise lies.
A Deal Sheet should consist of a list of major, significant transactions that you have worked on with headings, like Mergers & Acquisitions, Securities, Private Equity, Venture Capital, Real Estate Transactions, etc. Then under each heading, it follows a list of bullet points that describes the major transactions that an attorney has worked on. Often these are identified with client names or a general description of the type of client being serviced. If an attorney mentions a Fortune 50 client, then that particular matter might be more interesting to a potential employer and show a certain level of prestige. So this can be important information to communicate in the deal sheet.

Often the headings are broad, like Mergers & Acquisitions, Securities, etc. But a number of practice areas can be broken down further. For instance, within Real Estate, the categories could be Leasing, Finance, Zoning, etc. And more general categories can be broken down further if you have a lot of specific experience in one area or are a true specialist in an area. For example, a Leasing specialist might want to break down a Leasing category into "Big Box" Leasing, Landlord Representation, Tenant Representation, etc. I've also seen deals broken down with headings based on the dollar values of acquisitions (middle market, etc).

At the junior level, it often makes sense to roll this deal content into the resume, with a list of significant matters in a bullet point form that follows the description of your position with a firm or a company. And often, junior attorneys simply don't have the experience yet to create an effective deal sheet. But as soon as an attorney has handled an impressive and varied number of transactions, a deal sheet should be created. Further, if a very junior attorney has a complex deal sheet, then they are much more likely to be placed than an attorney still doing due diligence in year two. I worked with a one year attorney last year who had been pulled into a number of different types of transactions by several different partners, and he was able to create a deal sheet that put him head and shoulders ahead of other competing attorneys at the one year level. It also put him more on the playing field of a third-year attorney competing for the same position.

A number of attorneys will continue to roll the content that could be put into a deal sheet into the actual substance of a resume for many years. Either format is fine as long as the information is present and organized efficiently, but I happen to prefer a deal sheet. It serves to keep the resume compact, and then a potential employer can dig a little deeper into a deal sheet to find out the greater technicalities of an attorney's practice. It also helps to organize information and deals that might be spread out on the resume between, say, four or more different employers.

See 6 Things Attorneys and Law Students Need to Remove from Their Resumes ASAP If They Want to Get Jobs with the Most Prestigious Law Firms for more information.

If you are working with a search firm, a good recruiter should be able to give you advice on how to structure your deal sheet and suggest which matters should be included. I personally always give my candidates examples of deal sheets that guide them in the creation of their own, and then I work with them to perfect it.

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List Of Representative Transactions      Resume      Significant Transactions      Deal Sheet      Corporate Attorney      Legal Career Q & A     

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