Top 10 Negotiation Tips for Commercial Lawyers

Top 10 Negotiation Tips for Commercial Lawyers

Negotiation is part of life: you do it all day, every day.

With your clients about project strategy and payment of fees. With the other side about contractual terms, offers and counteroffers. With colleagues about who will deliver certain tasks and by when. With your employer/employees about salary, benefits and progression.

Some would say the stakes of negotiating at home are even higher than in the workplace. From the mundane (who will empty the dishwasher? which film are we going to watch? have the kids done their homework?) to the major (shall we move? should I take that job? shall we get married? shall we divorce?)

Life in the legal workplace presents a similar barrage of challenges to those at home, yet becoming a skilled negotiator is not something they teach at law school. Most of us fumble along and learn how to negotiate on the job and, in time, develop our own style. However, no matter what stage you are in your career it is always useful to remind yourself of the key skills required to be a good negotiator:

1. Preparation, preparation, preparation

No doubt the mantra “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” was drummed into you at some stage of your academic life and this adage continues to hold true in your professional life. A slick suit and blinding smile won’t get you through a negotiation. Do your homework. Prior to negotiations read and re-read your file, ensuring that you have the facts at your fingertips.

2. Know your client

Make sure that you have a sound grasp of your client, their business and the market they operate in. This will add value to the advice you give. Discuss with your client settlement parameters and walk-away positions in advance of negotiations with the other side and continue to clearly communicate with your client thr

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