Thomas Shoesmith from Pillsbury participates in global M&A roundtable discussion

Thomas Shoesmith, head of Pillsbury’s China practice and a partner in the corporate and securities practice in Silicon Valley and Shanghai, has participated in a roundtable moderated by California Lawyer on the status of global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) work.

Shoesmith noted that while overall M&A is down, activity in many key sectors is strong and, at times, increasing.

He told the panel: ‘Many large tech companies, particularly in life sciences, have become expert at outsourcing innovation and then buying the winners. The oil and gas and energy sectors are also very strong. And then, of course, China has been an area where we’ve seen a lot of changes and a lot of activity.’

Discussing the changing nature of M&A work, Shoesmith said that while he has been seeing large corporations handle much of their M&A in-house and use outside help for specialised expertise, experienced lawyers can still provide strategic guidance on a transaction.

He explained: ‘In due diligence, for example, it is sometimes relatively simple: collect the documents, see what they say and you’re done. But in China, due diligence requires second-order inferences — making judgments based on facts, not just discovering facts. And that requires a level of experience, not just expertise. So for an outside lawyer, the trend I see is towards a more strategic role and not just that of a technician.’