Negotiation, Brinkmanship and the Government Shutdown

Last month the world watched as the U.S. president and Congress brawled fiercely in a dispute over funding of the federal government, failing to reach agreement for weeks, forcing the government to partially shut down, laying off 800,000 workers and allowing the nation to hurtle recklessly towards financial default. Warren Buffet called it “pure idiocy.” The U.S. Treasury called it potentially catastrophic.

But was the drama a display of utter incompetence, or reasonable tactics employed by skilled negotiators, fully conscious of the risks and acting within the constraints of the circumstances to maximize gains for their constituents? Regardless of one’s political affiliation, it’s interesting to examine the events to see if they may impart any lessons for those who negotiate business agreements. Continue reading

Negotiation Training Course – KL, Malaysia, 10/24-25

Seats are still available for this lively, results-oriented training session in Kuala Lumpur on October 24 & 25.

Hi. I’m Chris Neumeyer, Managing Partner of Asia Law and an international lawyer with more than 20 years of experience negotiating and drafting complex commercial and corporate agreements. I just returned from Bangkok, where I led this same lively two-day training course last week. Participants came from diverse functions and industries, but all came away with an increased awareness of key issues and tactics in contract negotiations, improved ability to achieve results and eagerness to put it into practice.

If you may wish to attend this training in KL on October 24-25 or have any questions, please write to or, but please hurry as spaces are filling up fast. Continue reading

10 Tips for Drafting Bullet-Proof Settlement Agreements

Few contracts bring as much satisfaction as a well-crafted settlement agreement, for its ability to fully and finally resolve a dispute and bring lasting peace. To ensure that your settlement agreements meet those objectives, here are ten tips to consider.

1. Who is being released? The party being released (Releasee) will generally seek a release of not just itself but its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, agents and so forth. Provided the Releasor agrees to such language, it should be included in the release provision (e.g., “Releasor hereby releases, waives and forever discharges…”), not in the first paragraph of the agreement after the name of the Releasee, as that would complicate matters, making the subsidiaries and affiliates parties to the agreement.

2. What is being released? To ensure broad coverage, the Releasee will usually want to include detailed recitals of the facts, claims and allegations leading up to the settlement, then state something like this: (all claims and liabilities relating to such matters shall be known as the “Dispute”). It’s then a simple matter to release all claims concerning the Dispute. Of course, the Releasor should make sure that any unsettled disputes are expressly excluded. Continue reading

10 Tips for Successful Negotiations

Perhaps no skill is more valuable for attorneys than the ability to negotiate well. Whether one is concluding a commercial or corporate agreement, resolving disputes over defects or patents, or reaching a deal with a client or colleague, strong negotiation skills will always come in handy. Here are 10 tips to consider.

1. Collabortive v. Competitive. In a collaborative approach the parties seek a win-win solution through cooperation, sharing information and creative problem-solving. A competitive or win-lose approach, involves threats, manipulation and withholding of information. Collaboration is usually preferable, particularly if the parties are present or potential business partners, but sometimes a competitive approach may be appropriate.

2. Assess the Issues Beforehand. Before commencing negotiations, list your issues and your counterpart’s issues and prioritize them. Are some issues linked? Can or should they be linked? What areas of common ground exist? What concessions might be available for each side? What are some reasonable proposals? How badly does each side need an agreement? Continue reading