Leadership and Negotiation

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Courses are taught in negotiation. Books are written on negotiation, and they are useful.  However, what has been missing in the professional development of lawyers and their continuing education are courses that show lawyers how to be better leaders, and therefore, better negotiators.  Negotiation is a function of understanding your opponent, understanding your own position and its strengths and weaknesses.  These are leadership skills that take solid research, understanding of the situation as well as human nature, and understanding the risk tolerance of all parties to negotiation.  Leadership skills once honed help negotiators know when to push an item and take a stand and when to back off.  They help negotiators understand the big picture goals of their clients as well as attending to details so no small advantage is left on the table.  Most importantly, leaders take time to make sure they develop the reputation they need to walk into negotiations where the other side respects them, knows they are tough, but fair negotiators, and knows that the negotiator will be totally prepared.  I was once told by opposing counsel that the other side settled a case with me, quite favorably for my side, because “I” acted as if this was my only case.  Leaders dedicate the resources to win negotiations.  Leadership development courses will make you a better negotiator, not once, but throughout the life of your legal career.

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