This blog post comes from Jason Howell, our 2011 Summer Associate when he was a rising third-year law student at the William & Mary Law School. Jason is working with us this summer and debuts his first blog post.
Negotiation can be challenging. Whether you are negotiating the terms of a business agreement, trying to buy or sell property, or settling a dispute, getting to an agreement can be difficult. Even if you are successful in getting the other side to negotiate with you, you may feel at a disadvantage or worry that there is something in the final negotiated agreement you are missing.
Hiring an experienced attorney to represent you can give you advantages that can help you get to an acceptable agreement. By using an attorney in your negotiation, you can benefit from the attorney’s knowledge and skill, which can help you to reach your negotiation goals.
The adage that “two heads are better than one” is especially true in negotiation. When you have an attorney representing you in a negotiation, you benefit from the attorney’s legal knowledge. A good attorney is helpful in identifying and solving potential unseen problems with the agreement and can give you legal advice that will help you to meet your goals in the negotiation. For example, when business partners are negotiating the formation of a new business entity, an attorney’s legal knowledge can help to prevent problems from arising later on.
An attorney’s specialized skill can also give you an advantage in negotiation. A good attorney is a trained, experienced negotiator, and uses that training and experience to the advantage of his or her client. Consider, for example, how a first time homebuyer may feel at a disadvantage in negotiating a real estate contract. We are often told that the contracts are “standard” or “boilerplate,” but each contract has its own challenges. When the homebuyer hires an experienced attorney who has helped to negotiate numerous real estate contracts, the disadvantage can disappear.
Even if you are a skilled negotiator, there are intangible benefits of having an attorney represent you in negotiation. Often, people find it harder to negotiate for themselves than for others. This occurs because the personal relationships and emotions behind the negotiation prevent them from advocating forcefully for their own interests. By hiring an attorney without a personal stake in the negotiation, you can often depersonalize the negotiation, allowing the attorney-negotiator to more effectively protect your interests. Furthermore, if you are a skilled negotiator, you should be able work with your attorney to formulate an effective negotiation strategy that uses both his and your negotiation skill to the best advantage.
An area in which an attorney’s knowledge and skill may be particularly helpful is in settling disputes, even relatively minor disputes. Litigation can be intimidating. Although many of us realize how serious and costly litigation can be, we may not realize how an experienced lawyer can help to address these concerns. Often, an attorney can negotiate a settlement without filing a lawsuit. Settlement isn’t always the best option, however. If you are involved in litigation, you should consult with your attorney to discuss all of the options available to you.
Although negotiation can be daunting, it often doesn’t need to be. An experienced attorney can give you the peace of mind you need.
Tarley Robinson, PLC, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
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