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What makes a great transaction team (not just a good one)

“While financial and economic outcomes will always be important, they are no longer the sole determinant of what is the best or right decision,” says an award-winning partner.

user iconJessica Penny 15 September 2022 Big Law
What makes a great transaction team (not just a good one)
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Gilbert + Tobin (G+T) won Transaction Team of the Year at the Australian Law Award 2022, with the firm intimately understanding the social affairs that must be addressed beyond the transaction itself. 

Neil Pathak (pictured), partner and head of the Gilbert + Tobin mergers and acquisitions team in Melbourne, spoke to Lawyers Weekly to tell us what differentiates a good transaction team from a great one and what considerations within these processes have gained more influence than ever before. 

‘The world can often seem like it is getting more complicated and fast moving’


Hybrid work followed soon after the pandemic started, bringing on a global expectation of proficient digital literacy. When asked what trends he anticipates for the sector, Mr Pathak offered that the pandemic will have a permanent effect on how transaction teams continue to work. 

“The age of big data, digital transformation [and] AI mean that the availability of information and data today has never been higher. This brings opportunities with access to information but also the challenges of working through it all,” he said.

“Communication between team members and between the team and the client is always important, and even more so in a post pandemic environment, where people are working from different locations.

“This requires attention to continuous learning, making time to upskill on forthcoming regulatory changes and think about what shifting societal trends or economic changes will likely mean while working on ongoing transactions,” Mr Pathak advised.

“Thinking ahead and trying to understand what trends will mean for clients and what their needs will be can create significant opportunities for those who grasp the issues and can be nimble in how they respond.”

Changes in social and political attitudes can tell us a lot about the intricacies constantly renavigated by firms and sole practitioners alike. Mr Pathak explained that it is a transaction team’s responsibility to utilise their skill in the best interests of both the client and the larger social climate. 

“The global economy and the Australian economy is facing some challenges including inflation, higher interest rates, supply side constraints and geo-political tensions.

“Some of these issues and challenges are external to firms and individuals and cannot be changed by the acts of any one person or firm.

“The point is in these challenging times, where clients may be under pressure to make difficult or timely decisions … try to think ahead as to what a client may need or how a client’s decision may impact the road ahead for them,” he said.

‘Be responsive’

Mr Pathak advised that working dynamically alongside a changing market requires “coordination amongst a team [and] bringing different skill sets and expertise together, to deliver a holistic solution to insulate the client from potential risks”.

“There is also, rightly, an increasing focus on ESG (environmental, social and governance) considerations which also brings with it a need to comply with additional regulation or best practice guidelines.

“How a person, a company or a firm engages with all its stakeholders including customers, suppliers, employees, local communities and the environment can be critical for long term — and short term — success,” he said.

‘Transactional work is always exciting’

In spite of what feels like endless concerns to consider for transaction teams, it’s always an exhilarating area to work in, he told Lawyers Weekly.

“Even more so now, with an ever increasing range of issues, challenges and opportunities including digital transformation, ESG considerations, navigating climate change, energy transition and community expectations, increased regulation, geo-political considerations and security concerns.

“This will mean an ever changing and increasing range of considerations to factor into advice. Importantly it will mean that for clients and companies not only will a successful financial outcome be important but also the way or manner in which it is achieved will be critical to delivering long term value and enhancing reputations,” he concluded.

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