October 19, 2011 Articles

Negotiation Basics for Young Lawyers

By P. Jean Baker

Too many attorneys make the tragic mistake of relying on intuitive knowledge and skill when negotiating on behalf of a client. Not surprisingly, this approach probably accounts for the low percentage of effective attorney negotiators. In the seminal study conducted by Professor Gerald Williams, regardless of whether the attorney was a competitive games player or a cooperative problem solver, only 40 percent of the hundreds of practicing attorneys surveyed were found to be effective negotiators. One way to improve one's effectiveness as a negotiator is by enhancing one's knowledge of the basics.

Zero-Sum Contest
In zero-sum or win-lose contests, one side's gain is the other side's loss. The interests of the two sides rarely overlap. In the vast majority of negotiations, the interests of the participants must overlap if resolution is to be achieved. It is easier to achieve overlapping interests with some types of conflicts than with others.

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