Probate & Property Magazine

P R O B A T E   &   P R O P E R T Y
September/October 2008
Vol. 22 No.5

Section News - Profiles in Membership

Phyllis M. Rubinstein
Phyllis’s introduction to the Section occurred at the ABA Annual Meeting in New York in 1986 where, as a new member, she was on a panel reviewing recent developments in the law. This was just one of many CLE programs Phyllis has participated in over the years. From that point, she became actively involved in Section activities. Phyllis’s most significant contribution to the Section has been the formation and development, and later service as chair, of the Diversity Committee, which has been instrumental in promoting Manny Halper’s Minority Outreach Project. The Diversity Committee has been successful in attracting women and minority lawyers and continues to foster their growth and advancement into leadership positions in the Section.

In addition to serving on numerous ethics panels, Phyllis served as chair of the Ethics Committee for many years and as the liaison to the ABA Ethics 2000 Commission. Another rewarding position was her service on the Publications Committee as managing editor of the Books and Media Committee, which has been a significant revenue producer for the Section. Currently, Phyllis serves as vice-chair of the Membership Committee, which develops innovative recruiting initiatives.

Phyllis is a shareholder at the national law firm of LeClairRyan, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. Her practice focuses on representing developers and owners in the acquisition, financing, and leasing of commercial real estate projects, representing owners in the grant of conservation easements involving tax credits, and representing a major public utility in the acquisition of easements and fee properties. The networking opportunities provided by the Section have been invaluable to her practice. Section members have proven to be a significant resource, continually offering advice to help her clients with matters that involve the law of other jurisdictions. In addition, Section leadership led to her becoming a fellow of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys.

Phyllis is also devoted to community service and local bar activities. She is a past chair of the Richmond Business Council and is a member of the Professionalism Faculty of the Virginia State Bar. Phyllis and her husband, Ron, live in Richmond, Virginia, not far from their oldest son, Josh, his wife, Beth, and their granddaughter, Allison. Phyllis and Ron have a younger son, Justin, who lives in Manhattan and works in real estate. In her leisure time, Phyllis enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.

Martin M. Shenkman
Marty Shenkman is an attorney in private practice in Paramus, New Jersey, and New York City. His practice concentrates solely on estate and tax planning and estate administration. Marty was included in Worth magazine’s top 100 attorneys in 2007 and received the Alfred C. Clapp Award from the New Jersey Bar Association.

A widely quoted expert on tax matters, Marty is a regular source for numerous financial and business publications. He has appeared as a tax expert on numerous television and cable television shows. He is a frequent guest on radio talk shows throughout the country and has a regular weekly radio show on Money Matters Financial Network. Marty has published 36 books and more than 700 articles.

Marty’s introduction to the Section came when he spoke on trust situs at an ABA program in Denver, Colorado, in October 2006. At that program Jo Ann Engelhardt, one of the Section’s Diversity Committee leaders, asked Marty to speak on the effect of religion on estate planning practice at the 2007 Section Leadership Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After the success of that presentation, Marty wholeheartedly became an active member of the Diversity Committee.

“The camaraderie at Section meetings and conferences has made them personally rewarding and enjoyable, not only for me but for my wife, Patti,” he says. “Most recently, finding myself on the Diversity Committee has led to new opportunities for challenge and hopefully contribution.” Marty adds further: “The mysterious ways by which one finds oneself suddenly on a project, committee, or preparing an article or speech for the ABA are like the magic of Hogwarts. But for the ABA to share its magic, you do not need to find Platform 9¾; just step forward. The rewards should be wonderful. They have been for me.”

Marty is an active member of the New York, New York City, New Jersey, Bergen County, and the Washington, D.C., Bar Associations and various accounting and financial planning organizations. He is active in numerous charitable organizations, sitting on many boards and planned giving committees, and lectures regularly for these and other organizations. Marty and his wife live in northern New Jersey and are the parents of three sons, Jonathan, David, and Daniel, and two stepsons, Lee and Neil.

Young Lawyers Network
Negotiating is an important part of the lawyer’s job. Negotiation is about agreement and compromise. There are many views on how to successfully negotiate, but a few common themes can help your negotiation skills.

Be organized and be prepared. Before you attend a meeting or negotiation at any level, carefully review your documents and notes. Outline your position and what you are trying to accomplish, including any grievances. Know the facts relevant to the negotiation. If there is jargon particular to the circumstances of the deal, understand what it means! Speaking unclearly about how and in what manner you want your position to be implemented hurts your position and your client.

When researching your position, review both sides. What are the weaknesses in the other side’s case? What are the weaknesses in your case? Are there any mutual viewpoints? You need to be prepared for the best-case scenario and the worst-case scenario. Give thought to where you can make concessions. The most successful negotiation terms give careful consideration to the issues at hand.

Consider the objectives and emotional motivation of the other party. Don’t focus only on the law. The nature of our legal system encourages lawyers to be adversarial. Focusing on the law may neglect other dynamics of the negotiation. The purpose of the negotiation is to attempt to reach a deal with the other party.

Listen carefully to the other side. By actively listening, you may observe what the other party views as his or her strongest and weakest points in the negotiation. The other side may even give you clues about what he or she is willing to compromise on. Often, this may be an area of overlap that can mean the difference for whether or not a deal can be reached. Listening may also enable you to reach a more effective compromise. Also, learn to read nonverbal cues. Whether or not you are aware of it at the time, you process verbal and nonverbal information from a speaker simultaneously. Is the other person slumping? Is he or she making eye contact? Do the words match the position that the speaker is in? Such nonverbal cues may give you some insight. Interrupting while the other party is speaking may cause you to miss these important verbal and nonverbal cues.

Avoid becoming over-emotional in the negotiation. But understand this point: emotion can be helpful in some circumstances such as being a passionate advocate. If you lose control, however, you increase your chances of making an error. This often happens when your character is attacked. If you feel you may lose your cool, consider silence. Silence is an incredibly effective tool in negotiation. It increases the pressure on the other party and, more often than not, will encourage him or her to talk and give information away. Remember that if you have researched your position carefully, emotion should not be the biggest factor.

Finally, be realistic. What is the ultimate goal? Where can you budge? What is your best alternative if you cannot get what your client wishes? This includes having an alternative solution for the other side—if you help the other side he or she may help you. Never underestimate inertia in the negotiating process. It may be up to you to really start the process. Another helpful hint is to make things easier for the other side to say “yes.” For example, bring any necessary paperwork along yourself. The less the other side has to do, the more he or she may be willing to agree. Sometimes the simplest gestures make all the difference.

If you are well-prepared and anticipate the issues that may come up during the negotiation process, then this puts you in a better position to negotiate. You will be confident negotiating when you know exactly what your client wants and have the facts to support your position. If you have researched your position and control your emotions, anything unexpected should not affect your negotiation skills. n

Further reference:
Roger Fisher, William Ury & Bruce Patton, Getting to Yes! (1991).

Brian J. Dietmeyer & Rob Kaplan, Strategic Negotiation: A Breakthrough Four-Step Process for Effective Business Negotiation (2004).

P R O B A T E   &   P R O P E R T Y
September/October 2008
Vol. 22 No.5