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Attorney's Practice Guide to Negotiations

by Ted A. Donner

Attorney's Practice Guide to Negotiations by Ted A. Donner  (Thomson-Reuters ©1995-2014, Supplemented annually), is a comprehensive text for use by lawyers involved in negotiating a wide range of legal transactions and disputes, from small claims and personal injury actions to nation wide class actions and international agreements. The book was developed over a period of 20 years with contributions from over 100 attorneys working around the United States. Their insights, memorialized in roundtable discussions throughout the text, help make this the authoritative text on legal negotiations.

Following is a review from The Alternative Newsletter, Institute for Dispute Resolution (Seton Hall); Reprinted in ABA’s Dispute Resolution Magazine:


Donner, Ted A., and Crowe, Brian J., Attorney's Practice Guide to Negotiations (2d Ed.), Clark Boardman Callaghan, 155 Pfingsten Rd., Deerfield, IL 60015-4998 (1088pp *** 1995)


The Attorney's Practice Guide to Negotiation proves, somewhat to my surprise to be a truly first class contribution to the negotiation practice literature. I say "to my surprise" because many of the practitioner books in this area are longwinded without providing a serious guidance to the reader. Donner and Crowe's work is certainly lengthy, but it combines good writing with thoughtful analysis and effective presentation to qualify it as a valuable purchase for any attorney, novice or experienced.

The work is, as most legal professional books are, a compilation with individual chapters written by separate authors. The test of such a book is whether the editorial control exercised by the primary author/editors was adequate to maintain a consistency of style and approach sufficient to make the product into a book rather than a collected reader, and whether the quality overall is such as to recommend it. In this case both tests are met with flying colors, a fact made more impressive by the subject matter which prevents the kind of formal standardization that is appropriate in some areas of legal writing.

The book is divided into 10 sections made up of 44 chapters. The first two sections (14 chapters) provide an overview of the negotiation process with a clear emphasis on, but not exclusive coverage of, the attorney's role in the process. The analysis is quite detailed, but never falls into the trap of becoming so case specific that it loses sight of the fact that these are general principles that will have to be applied in a wide range of settings. Especially impressive is the strong focus on ethical issues and the consistent attention to the responsibility of the attorney to place the client's interests first.

The third and fourth sections of the book focus on negotiation in litigation and ADR settings. They put litigation in context as a dispute resolution mechanism and address specifically, in separate chapters, personal injury and matrimonial litigation and mediation as settings for negotiation. The remaining sections each examine a specific area of law or setting in which negotiation will take place. Negotiations with the government looks at plea bargaining, administrative settings, tax and bankruptcy, while negotiating across borders looks at admiralty and international issues. The other sections are more focused, addressing respectively employment issues, commercial transactions, real property and intellectual property.

Perhaps the most effective and valuable sections of the book are the chapters, which exist in each section, which present round table discussions amongst experts in the area. These round table discussions are based on model cases which are carefully selected and well designed to bring out the kinds of problems that the reader might well face. The discussants are highly professional, always keeping a weather eye out to assure ethical conduct, but also extremely practical in providing suggestions of approaches that may be useful to overcome difficulties that can arise in such negotiations.

This is a book that I can recommend highly to any attorney, and indeed to anyone else who is regularly involved in active negotiations. It is too long to be read from cover to cover, but the general chapters are not overwhelming, and the opportunity to read in detail the chapters in one's area of practice and to dip into others is very attractive.

-Prof. James B. Boskey