Establishing Focal Points at the Bargaining Table

Establishing Focal Points at the Bargaining Table

bargaining table

It is important to arrive at the bargaining table completely prepared. With court appearances, new cases to deal with, and the hectic pace of managing your law practice in the future, however, you may find that to be a difficult task to follow through with sometimes. Flying by the seat of your pants during a negotiation is a great way to find yourself completely embarrassed though, as well as on the losing end for a client who may be relying on you to close a very important deal.

Along with compiling background on the other side before arriving (this includes basic personal/business information, along with a full understanding of why they are in negotiations to begin with), understanding your own client fully, and establishing an appropriate setting for the meeting, have a list of focal points to keep you on track during the process:

  • Know exactly what your client wants – discuss all facets of negotiations with them beforehand. What are they seeking as an outcome, but what are they willing to take if the discussion takes more of a downward or uncertain turn? Have flexible goals set in place ahead of time, with notes regarding them in front of you while discussing the deal.
  • Upon considering what techniques you will employ during negotiations, whether you plan to be more aggressive, compromising, or cooperative, be ready to establish the mood during this process, outlining perceived goals and outcomes. Give them an opportunity to disagree with you, and almost immediately you will learn more about what the other side wants.
  • Consider a range of scenarios that may occur and write down your guidelines for dealing with all of them. This will help you remain more centered during the negotiation process, and especially if either party gets emotional or the discussion becomes heated overall.
  • Know what you can trade during negotiations, but don’t start offering this type of concession too soon. What does the other side value that your client may be able to give in to easily? Start there.
  • Have a firm projection regarding when you will walk away if necessary, avoiding taking a bad deal.

Along with having your focus notated and in front of you while you negotiate, bring an air of confidence to the process, along with objectivity. While a win-win may leave everyone feeling good, consider if that is truly best for your client. In most cases, a firm, determined, and bold negotiator will have the most success—and the best reputation over time.

Are you interested in becoming a skilled 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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