General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionMagazine

Volume 17, Number 7
October/November 2000

The Chair's Corner

The Art of Negotiation

By Wynn A. Gunderson

My mother has said she wasn’t surprised that I became a lawyer because as a child I would never take "no" for an answer. Because of life’s needs, we begin developing our negotiating skills very early in life. What I learned from negotiating with my mother for the price of a movie ticket began my quest to become a successful negotiator. Although there is a need for negotiating skills throughout life and in most occupations, the need to be a skillful negotiator is critical for lawyers. Some people associate negotiations primarily with personal injury cases because it is estimated that 95 percent of those cases are settled before trial. Through some of the articles presented in this issue of GPSolo, perhaps we can help overcome that misconception.

What motivates lawyers to learn more about negotiations is the fact that alternative dispute resolution (ADR) continues to grow at a very rapid rate as a method for settling disputes in a less costly and time-consuming manner. Clients want to achieve prompt resolution of their disputes without the high costs and delay associated with litigation. Also, our clients see greater value and less conflict in adopting mediation as a means of dispute resolution. With the growth of ADR, the development of more effective negotiating techniques becomes even more important.

It is because of the importance of the art of negotiation to our profession that we have featured that subject. Each lawyer has his or her own unique approach to negotiating. We hope some of the ideas being shared will offer you an insight on some negotiating techniques used by others that can assist you in improving your own. If you have any insights on negotiating that you believe would benefit our readers, would you be willing to send them to me at Incidentally, what my mother couldn’t teach me about the answer "no," my wife quickly did!

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