Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2014


Although the ostensible purpose for pretrial litigation is to prepare for trial, such preparation is inextricably intertwined with negotiation because the expected trial outcome is a major factor affecting negotiation. Indeed, since most litigated cases are settled, good litigators prepare for negotiation at least as much as trial. The lawyers interviewed for this article, who were selected because of their good reputations, described how they prepare for both possibilities. They recommend taking charge of their cases from the outset, which includes getting a clear understanding of clients and their interests, developing good relationships with counterpart lawyers, carefully investigating the cases, making strategic decisions about timing, and enlisting mediators and courts when needed. The lawyers overwhelmingly suggested starting negotiation at the earliest appropriate time. Reaching agreement sooner generally produces the benefit of reduced litigation costs as well as reduced time that parties invest in litigation. Lawyers produce better agreements when they focus on both sides’ interests because this enables them to create value, even in supposedly zero-sum negotiations.



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