For about an hour, corporate lawyers get to play litigator, asking the executives of client companies to testify about the deal negotiations before a state hearing officer, whose job it is to determine if a merger or acquisition is fair to everyone involved. The executives sometimes even get to read their answers from a script.

The hearing officer then signs off on the deal, and the most mundane and predictable of processes comes to a close. It’s a popular way for companies to avoid the more arduous federal process of applying for approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission.