James Kaplan's law firm was negotiating a handful of bank mergers when the stock market collapsed two weeks ago. All of them are bogged down in new squabbles over whether the seller can say "deal's off" if the buyer's shares tank.

"It is a big issue right now. I have a deal that is on the rocks because of it," said Kaplan, partner and chair of the Midwest banking practice of DLA Piper in Chicago. "In today's market it is all about price protection."

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