Some big-firm lawyers are busier than others nowadays, but it’s not just the bankruptcy guys getting work. Options exchanges have been a boon to benefits and executive compensation lawyers, filling a void in their workload left by the lull in M&A activity.

Baker & McKenzie‘s Valerie Diamond said options exchanges — in which companies turn underwater options into better-priced options, restricted stock or cash for the benefit of shareholders or employees — are taking up 70 percent of her time. A couple of years ago, they rarely popped up at all.

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