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Why do you need a lawyer with good negotiation skills?

Better commercial results

A lawyer with good negotiation skills can make a huge difference to the result you get. For example, a good lawyer will not only alert you to the legal issues which need to be taken into account, but also help you get a better commercial outcome if only because he or she can provide an objective opinion about your proposed negotiation strategy.  

On the other hand, if you want to resolve a dispute without the extraordinarily high cost of litigation, you need a lawyer who has a sound knowledge of the psychology of negotiation (not just someone who has attended a negotiation seminar!).

Better legal results

It doesn’t matter how good your lawyer’s legal knowledge is, if he/she is not able to convince the other side’s lawyer, you won’t get the best result. In other words, the way the lawyer-to-lawyer negotiation is handled will affect the legal outcome. This requires good negotiation skills

How do you know if a lawyer has good negotiation skills?

A good start is to ensure that a lawyer understands the principles of negotiation psychology and when to use them. For example, does he/she know the rules about the level at which you pitch the first offer, or whether you should put the other side in a position where they have to make the first move?

Unfortunately, most negotiation courses do not deal with the underlying psychology on which correct negotiation techniques should be based. This means poor results. 

Commercial Negotiation


It is very important to know the legal issues which may affect the negotiation early in the process.

Your lawyer doesn't need to be involved in the actual negotiation but he or she should be consulted early so the legal issues, and their commercial ramifications, can be included in your negotiation planning.

However, what usually happens is that the lawyers are consulted after the commercial terms have been negotiated. This is OK where the client has sufficient experience in that particular type of negotiation to know the legal landscape. However, problems occur when not all the legal or commercial issues have been included and new issues are later raised by the lawyers. The need to negotiate new terms can have an adverse (sometimes fatal) effect on the outcome. The problem is compounded by lawyers who include new terms in a draft agreement, or in a lawyer-to-lawyer letter, as if they are a fait accompli, even though they have not been previously agreed to or raised as part of the negotiation. It is not uncommon for this type of thing to cause a deal to fall over.  


The same principles apply to potential disputes. It is very important to consult the appropriate lawyer at an early stage to minimise the likelihood of litigation which is extremely costly, and counter productive.

Unless a dispute is handled using the right negotiation psychology from an early stage, the risk is that the disagreement becomes entrenched which makes it even more difficult to resolve in a productive way.

If you would like a complimentary copy of “In Business, What You Get is What You Negotiate – An Introduction” please complete the Contact Lexxon form and put “Negotiation Introduction” in the section Brief description of what you need

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