Negotiation skill is an art and is a must for many lawyers. The negotiation with clients or other advocates or any person is an important part of a lawyer’s career. Many times lawyer negotiations must present arguments intended to persuade the other side of the legitimacy of their positions.
The main step to be good at negotiation: you should learn and listen and should be aware of the facts before starting to negotiate.
If you have information gathered, then you have the power. Only if you listen to the opposite side you get the points to argue back.
Most of the time Negotiations follow four phases:
commitment to the agreed-upon outcome.
There are both strategic and tactical considerations to achieving the outcome that your clients want and that fulfills your own assessment of the best possible outcome.
One tactical consideration is maximizing your leverage in the explicit bargaining stage. You should know:
what are the boundaries of your client’s need?
How badly does your client want a particular deal or settlement?
What are your client’s or your alternatives if an agreement is not reached?
What are the possible ways to strengthen your leverage?
The answers to these questions are the key to success.
Harvard Law School gives some good advice on negotiation including some basic ground rules such as:
“Prepare methodically and comprehensively by meticulously analyzing your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.”
“A good negotiator has already spent time on improving their best alternative to a Negotiated Agreement before entering a negotiation table. “
Once you gain experience in hard-bargaining tactics and negotiation skills, you will find that the more you are fully prepared, the more likely you will have a successful outcome.
According to the author, management consultant and executive coach Dr. Jon Warner, “…a vast number of negotiations fail because the initial attitude of mind towards the other negotiating party was poor or negative. And therefore underprepared and alert.”
Many successful negotiators also study books of strategy and tactics like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Here are some maxims which have stood the test of many negotiations resulting in successful outcomes:
“The supreme art of negotiation is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
“Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.”
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”
“If your opponent is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .”
“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
If you plan to be a successful and healthy negotiation and a good lawyer you will have to improve your negotiation skills. Negotiation is unavoidable for lawyers as it's an essential part of your career.
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