Friday, June 21, 2024 - 10:39


Her reflections on how she approaches M&A deals, team building and her take on the new M&A guides




Becoming an M&A lawyer was an unexpected turn for Ms Shirin Tang, who began her career as a litigator. Shirin, now the Managing Partner at Morrison Foerster (Singapore) has a reputation as an M&A heavyweight. But this did not reflect her fancies in law school — there, she preferred disputes and litigation subjects, considering them more “real world”.

That changed during her stint at Shearman & Sterling LLP in New York—but not of her own volition. She had been asked to rank her preferences for a practice area and was given M&A, despite it being her fifth choice whereas her first was litigation.

Looking back, she says that M&A was a perfect fit, given her personality. “While I was competent in litigation, being adversarial in open court was stressful,” Shirin reflects. “I preferred the one-on-one interactions with clients and counterparties to collaboratively solve problems much more.”

She emphasises that M&A deals are not merely transactions to her as she forges relationships with clients to become their trusted partner in business. “By establishing such relationships, we assist clients throughout their business cycles, whether it involves restructuring operations due to regulatory changes or achieving capital raising objectives.”


Shirin and her colleagues at a Morrison Foerster Singapore holiday party 

Throughout her career, Shirin has consistently been involved in large and complex transactions. During her time in New York, she served as lead associate on a significant global petrochemical joint venture spanning 25 countries, involving over 5,000 employees. Managing client teams and local counsel across these jurisdictions was not something commonly left to fifth-yearers. “It was terrifying but thrilling to realise that I was capable of leading a team of other associates to solve a myriad of different issues in multiple countries.  I’m grateful to have worked with partners and counsel who trusted me with such stretch assignments.”  


  •           Understanding the core commercial objectives of all parties involved

  •           Addressing critical issues such as compliance challenges that may affect new buyers or joint venture partners

  •           To meticulously navigate evolving regulatory landscapes, considering how regulations with extraterritorial reach could impact transactions

In Shirin's view, an exemplary M&A lawyer must….

  •         Protect the client's interests without hindering deal progress due to overly conservative approaches

  •           Maintain sound judgment while achieving commercial goals during negotiations

  •           Have the headspace to listen to their instincts despite being under extreme time pressure

  •           Exhibit initiative, possess a holistic view of deals and the ability to project-manage multiple stakeholders

  •           Leverage resources for effective deal-making


As an additional resource, Shirin endorses SAL’s recently launched M&A guide, available for free on LawNet.

“The guides feature dropdowns for detailed information and are presented in straightforward, plain English,” Shirin observes. “They include practical tips, such as understanding financial motivations and associated risks. This accessibility makes them particularly attractive, especially for junior lawyers and smaller firms.”

“These guides are similar to Singapore's VIMA model documents for venture deals, designed to streamline processes and reduce transaction costs,” she elaborates. “They raise industry standards by outlining common agreements and procedures.”

Beyond the know-how of M&A dealmaking, a knowledge of geopolitical and economic outlooks for different industries is also useful, adds Shirin.

“It is useful to connect the dots on which industries are likely to be in demand in Singapore and whether you can develop any specialised knowledge,” she explains, suggesting as an example that the shift towards sustainability and renewable energy has generated demand for lawyers skilled in negotiating matters relating to renewable energy certificates, carbon credits and solar/wind energy transactions.


Shirin has been the firm’s Singapore head since 2019. “I find great fulfilment in mentoring and coaching the next generation, fostering a strong team that excels in navigating intricate transactions.”



She sees herself as a builder of teams and offices, clearing obstacles to empower each team member's growth.

“It's about having the hard conversations and providing the support needed for individuals to thrive.”

“This journey of continuous improvement and helping people achieve their full potential is incredibly satisfying,” she concludes.

Beyond her role as Managing Partner and member of Morrison Foerster's global Executive Committee, Shirin balances her professional responsibilities with community engagement and cherishing time spent with her 15-year-old son.


Morrison Foerster at Willing Hearts soup kitchen on Community Service Day


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Connect with Shirin Tang on LinkedIn

All active legal research users on can activate and access the newly launched M&A guides here