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Staffing a Billion-Dollar M&A Deal

August 11, 2023

Maha Ouni L'25
Maha Ouni L’25

Maha Ouni L’25 leveraged her finance background while working on Morgan Lewis’ corporate business transactions, M&A, and investment management practice groups.

My ten-week summer with Morgan Lewis (ML) began with the firm’s annual kickoff event in Santa Monica, California, where I met other summer associates and networked with attorneys from all over the country.

On my second morning in California, the firm’s Chief Engagement Officer, Amanda Smith, personally informed me that I had been awarded the Morgan Lewis Foundation Diversity Scholarship. Amanda works in the New York office and continues to serve as a strong, supportive resource. This was a recurring theme during my internship: regardless of seniority or position, someone at ML was always there offering a warm welcome or a helping hand.

This trip was also my first time visiting the West Coast. I got to dip my toes into the Pacific Ocean, pet a seal, attend a beach party, and of course, learn about the firm’s values and culture. To my pleasant surprise, and slight disbelief, the summer only continued to get better after I onboarded at the Philadelphia office.

Hands-On Corporate Business Transaction Experience

Morgan Lewis’ summer assignment portal allowed me to choose the assignments that most interested me. This freedom was incredibly useful, and I was especially interested in the Corporate Business Transactions (CBT) practice group. Each assignment I took on allowed me to practice communicating with attorneys to schedule assignment overviews, hone my drafting and research skills, and receive valuable feedback. In addition, Jarel Johnson, who I met at a Penn affinity group dinner during my 1L year, staffed me on a billion-dollar oil deal—my first M&A deal.

In between summer programming and networking, I completed substantive work, such as writing research memos and joining an active deal team. In addition to CBT, I worked with the Investment Management and Private Client practice groups. My work varied from putting together materials to helping advise broker-dealers and private equity funds and drafting a trust. With my finance background at Vanguard, where I dealt with trust and estates work, these tasks weren’t completely foreign to me. However, the puzzle-like nature of M&A and learning everything about a company to prepare for a deal drew me to CBT. I also loved the team-oriented style of transactional work.

Another highlight of my summer was participating in a mock negotiation exercise. Our cohort was divided into two teams, with one representing a growing business looking to secure a loan and the other side representing the lender. I felt especially prepared for this after completing a similar project during my Legal Practice Skills course taught by Matthew Duncan L’03, Legal Practice Skills Senior Lecturer.

A Collegial Culture

The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s collegial culture and strong relationship with Morgan Lewis were also essential to my success, and the firm shares a similar welcoming environment while expecting excellent work. With this summer experience under my belt, I can fine tune my course selection to advance my specific career goals. My go-to networking question for my fellow summer associates, some of whom were rising 3Ls at Penn Carey Law, and Penn Carey Law alumni at the firm was “What classes would you recommend?”. Recommendations ranged from Securities Regulation, Tax, and Wharton courses.

I also look forward to continuing my involvement with the Black Law Students Association, the Middle Eastern Law Students Association, and the Penn Graduate Boxing Club. I hope to be an active alumna, building community and connections I can return to after graduation, especially since Morgan Lewis’ new office will be a stone’s throw away at 2222 Market Street. I will be back at Morgan Lewis next summer and look forward to hitting the ground running.

Pathways to the Profession highlights Penn Carey Law students and post-graduate fellows as they launch impactful legal careers. From summer internships in the private sector to public interest post-graduate fellowships, these firsthand accounts of substantive legal work demonstrate the myriad opportunities available to Penn Carey Law students and graduates as they hone their skills and advance their career goals.

A Philadelphia native and first-generation professional, Maha Ouni L’25 is pursuing a career in corporate law and is passionate about efforts to diversify the legal field.

Discover more of our students’ Pathways to the Profession.