In law, negotiations between parties can end in a win-win for both sides or they can break down and leave your client further from their objective. It’s a delicate dance that requires a clear understanding or your client’s needs and desires as well as those of the opposing party.
A recent NW Sidebar posts highlights these tips for negotiating effectively:
- Adopt a negotiator’s mindset
- Prepare yourself mentally
- Stay focused on your client’s goals
- Practice total awareness
- Be honest
- Know when to stop
- Confirm agreements
Read the full post here.
Before the Beginning
You can’t focus on your client’s goals if you don’t know what they are. Negotiation is a serious subject. If possible, meet with your client in person. Be open to what the client has to say, but be prepared to curb his expectations.
- If there are boundaries you feel you can’t cross, speak up.
- Identify and verify lienholders and others who may have third-party rights to settlement proceeds.
- Compile your costs to date (and likely future costs).
- Use this information to discuss the difference between gross and net settlement values. Give concrete examples.
- Allow the client time to think even if it appears you’ve come to a mutual understanding about how to proceed.
During negotiation, keep the client informed. Technically, it may not be necessary so long as you are operating within your settlement authority. However, keeping the client involved will give her a better picture of the overall process.
Remember: the ultimate decision to settle is the client’s, not yours.
Don’t stop at confirming agreements with opposing counsel. Confirm the client’s consent to settle in writing! Let the client know the likely ETA of the settlement proceeds and what the disbursement process will involve (for example, waiting for a check to clear). Provide a written settlement accounting. A sample settlement accounting and checklist is available on the PLF website. Select Practice Management > Forms > Litigation.
All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2018