On the corporate law level, M&A overlaps with many different areas of the law, including:
On the transaction-specific level, most M&A transactions also involve specialty areas such as:
It will often be necessary or advisable to consult with a specialist in those areas, and with employees of the buyer or seller who specialize in those areas. Your experience will vary based on whether you are working on a very large transaction or a simpler one, and the needs of an individual client.
This page doesn't get into detail about specialist areas, but keep in mind that each will have its own resources for research.
See the pages in the left column under Legal Resources to dive more deeply into M&A research.
LIbrary books are free, as long as you can gain access to the library! Law libraries often have public terminals for research on Bloomberg or Westlaw as well, though they may not have all of the specialist resources available.
Free online resources can be useful if you know what you are looking for, or if you just need a quick overview or term definition. Note that they may be an inefficient way to find precedent if you don't have a strong starting point. The paid resources elsewhere in this guide may be more useful.
The Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) website at www.sec.gov. It is a place to find forms and information on when, how to, and what to file and the fees to do so, the SEC Staff's guidance and interpretations, and to access the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system (EDGAR). This is the system where public companies file their public reporting documents, as well as where those filings can be found for free.
Cornell Legal Information Institute: A useful resource that includes both secondary and primary sources for a variety of legal topics (case law, CFR, etc).
Wex: A free, searchable, well cross-referenced legal dictionary that is part of CLII.
Law Reviews & Journals Search: Free search for open-access law reviews and legal journals, from the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center.
Google Scholar: Free access to federal and state case law, as well as indexing and limited full text for legal journal articles.
The M&A Lawyer Blog: Focused on M&A but no longer updated, which (as with all resources) means you must check that the information provided is still accurate.
M&A Law Prof Blog: Law Professors Blog Network, focused on M&A