The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Mock this Counselor!

As part of our summer training, we have mock lawyer scenarios. While this is not billable work, it is a great training experience and a Partner does judge us on our progress. We are given a set of facts that grows throughout the summer becoming more complex and eventually leads to a trial. Our first formal role-playing event was a negotiation. The fact patterns are written in a way that are not inducive to one side "winning". You know, both sides are supposed to win...um, for their clients. We are talking the difference between no money (on one side) and $30million (on the other). I know from last year that the results usually hover around the $15million range with other concessions or demands thrown in. Simple enough.

We were given all the facts on Monday and had until yesterday morning to plan our strategy, then go to the table to negotiate a settlement. How great is it that not only did I get my client the $30million he wanted, but my opposing counsel got fired and had a malpractice suit filed against him. Sweet!

It's really not nearly as interesting as the suspense makes it out to be:-) My client wanted cash, but knew that was unrealistic so would settle for security interests in assets instead. Opposing counsel was only authorized to give security interests in his client's assets and did not have the authority to offer any cash. In fact, his client told him not to give cash. (This was all in his "secret facts".)

So, we hit a bit of a sticking point and my opposing counsel attempts to get out of it with a bluff. It went something like this:

him: "Well, you know, we can always just give you the $30million right now and walk away. If that happens, then your client will suffer the loss of this great relationship."
me: [thinking - HUH???] "Well, I hate to just walk away from the table." [Dramatic pause] "Yeah, we'll take the money."
him: "Wait, do you really want to do that?"
me: "Yep, we'll take the money."
him: "But, you DO KNOW that means no more business relationship with my client."
me: "That's fine. We'll take the money."
him: "That would mean we just wasted the past hour attempting to negotiate and never came to a settlement."
me: "No, it means I just scored $30million for my client. I'm pretty sure they won't care about my waste of an hour."
him: "But, you can't, but wait, but..."
me: "Pleasure working with you sir, perhaps we will run into each other again."
partner watching [to him]: "You do realize that you will now get fired and most probably sued for malpractice, right?"
me: [huge grin]