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Three techniques for in-house counsel when they negotiate terms with outside counsel

A piece in the Harvard Bus. Rev., Vol. 85, Sept. 2007 at 77, explains several good ideas for when an inside lawyer negotiates terms of a representation with a law-firm partner.

Share information and encourage reciprocity. After you explain the ground rules – “I will start and you will follow suit.” – share some information and interests incrementally. Observe whether the partner opens up in a similar style.

Second, negotiate multiple issues simultaneously, which means you should put all the issues on the table at once. Otherwise, when you negotiate one issue at a time, each one seems the most critical and you can hit a log jam.

Third, make multiple offers at the same time. This tactic helps smoke out the interests of the law firm. It also emphasizes the necessity of tradeoffs and the perspective that surveys not just individual points but the entire deal.