At the Bargaining Table? Know Your Opponent!

At the Bargaining Table? Know Your Opponent!

bargaining table

Whether you are a new law student or a seasoned attorney, you may find negotiating to be exciting. While this may seem intimidating or stressful to some—and especially if you have not had much experience at the bargaining table yet—having repeated positive outcomes for your clients can be extremely rewarding for everyone involved. Each time you enter and complete negotiations, you will learn something, and likely, your confidence levels will rise.

Strategy is always key in negotiating. And while you may be tempted to take a more aggressive, competitive approach, working in your client’s best interest, a win-win all around should usually be the goal—leaving everyone relatively satisfied and pleased with your performance, while also adding to your reputation and credibility should you find yourself negotiating with the same group again later. Along with reducing the temptation to play hardball, having a positive attitude in negotiations will usually yield good results, along with being prepared for both the best and the worst. Speak to your client at length about the result they seek, along with understanding exactly how much they would be willing to compromise.

Preparation and research should be priority before entering negotiations. Knowing your opponent allows for greater leverage in the process, and that encompasses far more than just getting a feel for their personality or reading their resume. This is where you as a negotiator should dig deep in attempting to understand why they are involved in a potential lawsuit and most likely what they want in the end—or what they are willing to give.

Empathy is defined as an understanding or sharing of the emotions of someone else; in other words, you put yourself in their shoes. This can be an extremely effective way of connecting with the opposing party and finding a reasonable way to compromise rather than continuing to an adversarial court scenario. You may find yourself having a much better rapport with everyone involved, as well as understanding how far you can push for the settlement your own client hopes for. And let’s not forget that getting to know your own client should come before anything else! Have a list of questions prepared for them upon meeting, keep communication ongoing as the case progresses, and take breaks when possible during negotiating to take your client’s pulse regarding the proceedings.

Are you interested in becoming a skilled lawyer and negotiator? Our mission at CDTA College of Law is to educate, train, and develop extraordinary legal advocates. Your legal education will be comprised of bar-tested academic subjects, skills training, and values reinforcement. Upon completion of your 4-year course of study you will be fully qualified to take and pass the California Bar examination. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.


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