The Importance of Hiring a Good Negotiator

By Autumn Byas, Gorman Law Firm Paralegal Intern.

When you think of qualities a good attorney will have, what do you think of?  Personally, I think of a good attorney as someone who will have the following qualities:

  • Professionalism
  • Good work ethics
  • Educated
  • A good negotiator

I am writing specifically about why attorneys need to be good negotiators in this blog.  This skill is one of the most essential qualities an attorney needs in order to be good at his or her job.  It is common to see majority of cases settled out of court.  According to some statistics about 95 percent of pending lawsuits end in a pre-trial settlement.  (Hirby, James “What Percentage of Lawsuits settle before trial? What are some statistics on personal injury settlements?” The Law Dictionary and Blacks Law Dictionary Free 2nd Ed.  3/13/2015.).  These staggering statistics means that, for majority of attorneys, their job is mainly composed of preparing and negotiating with the opposing side.

However, to say that 95 percent of lawsuits are settled out of court it can be misleading.  “Casual conventional wisdom often has it that about 95 percent of cases settle. This may be an extrapolation from H. Laurence Ross’s finding that 95.8 percent of automobile accident insurance claims settled. However, 95 percent is an unrealistic settlement rate for disputes leading to case filings in the United States.” (Eisenberg, Theodore and Charlotte Lanvers. “What is the Settlement Rate and Why Should We Care?” Journal of Empirical Legal Sudies. 2009. VOL. 6 issue 1. Pages 111-146. Printed.).

Even though there may be disputes on the actual percentage of  cases that settle before going to trial, one thing is clear.  People involved in a litigation dispute should seek out help from an experienced attorney who is good at negotiating.  The Gorman Law Firm has experienced negotiators who will fight for their client’s rights. “Settlement is not only the modal litigation outcome, it is also the most common successful outcome for plaintiffs, far exceeding the number of successes at trial.” (Eisenberg, Theodore and Charlotte Lanvers. “What is the Settlement Rate and Why Should We Care?” Journal of Empirical Legal Sudies. 2009. VOL. 6 issue 1. Pages 111-146. Printed.)

Because negotiating is such an important part of being an attorney it is important for attorneys to know what makes an good negotiator.  An article in The Young Lawyer entitled Secrets to Advanced Negotiating gives three suggestions to help attorneys become better negotiators:

  • “Stop acting like a show off.” In other words you should be friendly. The person you are negotiating with now you might have to work with later on in your career as well.
  • “Shut up and listen.” In other words you should listen more and talk less. (you get more information that way as well.)
  • “Just say yes.” In other words, while negotiating, you should focus more on where you agree and not on your differences.

(Black, Keith. (Winter 2015).  Secrets to Advanced Negotiating.  The Young Lawyers Division/American Bar Association.  Volume 19 issue 02.  Pages 10-11. )

According to the article, Secrets to Advanced Negotiating, “A successful negotiation should leave both sides feeling good (or at least not so bad, depending on the circumstances).”The article further advised to “treat every interaction with another attorney as if you were being interviewed for a job.”   (Black, Keith. (Winter 2015).  Secrets to Advanced Negotiating.  The Young Lawyers Division/American Bar Association.  Volume 19 issue 02.  Pages 10-11. ). You can use this advice with pretty much any job you have, or with any interaction with people.  It is impossible to get along with everyone you meet but if you treat individuals respectfully they are more inclined to listen and negotiate with you.

Who would you consider a great negotiator in history?  It can be beneficial to look at individuals in history who were able to get many people to listen to them.  By looking at how they treated people, and how they got people to listen to them, it can help you figure out how you need to talk to people to get them to negotiate in a fair and just way.  Some great negotiators in history have been Jesus Christ and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The following verse is an example of how Jesus was able to deal with difficult people trying to harm him.

Matthew 22:15-22 (NIV)

Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

It is easy to see that Jesus was a good negotiator.  The individuals who initially meant to harm Jesus ended up leaving in amazement.  As Jesus walked to earth he listened to the people. Listening is an important part in negotiating.

Martin Luther King Jr. was another individual who was very good at speaking to individuals.  He got people to his side, his “dream”, just by being himself.  He used non violent forms of protest to help bring much needed change to the U.S.  He once stated “Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service”.

A good negotiator should have experience in getting from point A to point B as well as having the ability to be able to see the different outcomes that could arise throughout the negotiations.  Good negotiators also have reputations for honesty, reasonableness, and reliability.  Having good communication with clients is important so that there are no surprises.  If you are in need of a good negotiator in a Family Law case then please check out the Gorman Law Firm website.  The attorneys at the Gorman Law Firm will handle your case professionally and help you through the entire process.  The Gorman Law Firm fights for their clients rights.


If you are currently facing a family law related issue, contact Gorman Law Firm, PLLC. Our office can be reached by phone at 800-583-6602 or by completing our online contact form. Our office is open normal business hours during the week, but we provide office hours on Saturday and are available around the clock through our website. We accept all major credit cards as payment and offer services in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

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