Marc considers Bob Berliner to be one of the best negotiators he knows. Bob has over 35 years of experience in the legal profession; the breadth and depth of his legal experience is unmatched. Educated at Harvard, he spent his early career handling business litigation. He stepped out of private practice to become General Counsel of Jupiter Industries, Inc – a corporate conglomerate with billion-dollar revenues whose interests include construction, transportation and engineering.

He is President of the Association of Attorney Mediators and specialises in creating strategies and techniques for mediators. He is an arbitrator and expert witness as well: there isn’t any seat or role that Bob hasn’t played in the legal community.

He also spent time in the military, and this provides excellent material in the show as Marc and Bob discuss how this experience has helped develop his negotiation skills.

Contact Bob at:

Some of the main takeaways from the podcast are:

  1. It can be a mistake for lawyers to believe their own rhetoric, or to be scared that their clients might see them as weak: that the idea of that ‘going to war’ is needed to seem credible.
  2. Not being honest with yourself and your clients with the problems of your potential as an advocate in an adversarial case.
  3. It can be an eye opener to see your opponent’s side of the story, unfiltered by the other sides lawyer.
  4. Bob says the best way to learn is by watching others and practicing.
  5. Bob says the best way to deal with impasse is to avoid impasse!
  6. Engage in pre-mediation wherever possible.
  7. Try to understand your opponent’s side of things.
  8. Understand what your opponent’s needs are to allow them to make a deal.
  9. Use ‘bracketing’ where appropriate to narrow down the possibilities.

Episode Highlights Include:

[2:30]: How did you learn how to negotiate? Bob talks of how It has become a real academic profession within schools like Harvard. Professor Roger Fisher has written the bible of negotiation called ‘Getting to Yes’

[3:45]: What made Jerry Wexler such a great negotiator? Bob says he knew what his objective was.

[4:10]: How did the military affect your negotiation skills?’ Bob says he learned to work with people from different backgrounds.

[6:40]: The egalitarian nature of the military and further education: how people learn to accept and work with people from different backgrounds.

[8:30]: Typical mistakes lawyers make when negotiating?

[10:15]: The need to educate clients – manage expectations and then exceed them.

[12:25]: Thinking about the other side – especially in adversarial contexts.

[13:10]: Trying to negotiate without really knowing what you have

[15:20]: ‘Tit-for-tat’ and pointless negotiations.

[17:00]: How do you get past impasses? By preventing it.

[19:40]: Block the idea of impasse

[21:30]: The mediator’s role to push people towards a realistic number. People bring in mediators for leadership and guidance.

[25:40]: How do lawyers negotiate differently to businesspeople?

[31:50]: Most difficult types of cases to negotiate? Bob says family business.

[35:00]: How to start a negotiation with an end goal in mind?

[38:00]: Recent approaches to negotiation?

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