Excel for Lawyers

I am often asked whether my MBA helps my corporate law practice (more on that in a forthcoming post).  One skill I credit to business school is proficiency in Microsoft Excel. Corporate law is not an area of law where one can escape math and numbers. Sorry to break that to those who went into law because math was not their thing. Here are a few ways that Excel is regularly used by lawyers:

  1. Liquidation Waterfall- Being able to use Excel to model how proceeds will be distributed to stockholders in the event of a change in control is important for any lawyer representing emerging growth companies or involved in mergers and acquistions.
  2. Calculating Interest– Although calculation of interest on a loan can be done through programs or with paper and pen, Excel is useful when modeling how principal and interest is converted into capital stock.  The Excel spreadsheet can be set up automatically adjust when variables are changed (such as date of conversion).  It also provides an easier way to ensure all parties are in agreement and obtain sign off on the numbers.
  3. Stockholder Votes– For emerging growth companies, the ability to amend corporate documents or engage in particular activities may require the consent of different stockholders based on different thresholds. Excel can be used to more efficiently track stockholder votes to ensure that the requisite approval threshold is reached.

Knowing your way around Excel also helps you to speak the language of your clients in the business sectors. Fortunately an MBA is not the only way to learn Excel.  There are dozens of online resources for Excel (including this), as well as books on the subject or even through Google/trial and error. It is definitely worth your time to learn the basics of Excel.

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