Building relationships with our counterparts may serve our client's interests

Honesty at the negotiation table may serve you well in the long run

Part 1 of this article (“Negotiation Ethics,” January 2012) generated the most commentary of any column I’ve published with InsideCounsel. Readers’ emails in response to the hypothetical reflect their struggle to serve the clients’ best interests while managing the ethics of negotiations. The hypothetical places you at a negotiation table with your business partner and your customer’s counterparts. During a break, your business partner tells you that important cost data developed and used by the customer to establish its position on price is incorrect and permits your company toextract a higher price. When you rejoin the meeting, the customer’s in-house counsel innocently states: “Unless I’m missing something, this looks like a win-win result.” Quickly, your business partner interjects that the deal looks good to him. The customer’s counsel looks to you for confirmation. I asked readers to share how they would respond.

Briefly, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct require a lawyer to be truthful when dealing with others on a client’s behalf.

Brian Martin

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