My fiancee and I are avid fans of the History Channel’s –"Pawn Stars". The more I watch the reality show about people bringing in unique, bizarre, and rare things they want to sell or pawn the more applications I see in my day to day activities as a plaintiff’s lawyer in South Carolina.
Negotiating 101 may be taught at law schools but it wasn’t taught at mine. There were classes about the history of law and other BS classes to help you think, read, and write but nothing to integrate the application of the present situation that wonderful history of law has brought upon us.
In comes a better application than my clients references of "Law & Order"— "Pawn Stars". Law students, new lawyers, and inexperienced plaintiff’s lawyers save yourself some time and money and just watch the show. You can learn a lot of things about negotiating with evil insurance companies by watching the interaction between the pawn store employees and the customers:
- Never start at the price you eventually want to get. You can always go down in a negotiation but you seldom can go up and expect talks to continue.
- Research your case before you go try and sell it. If you don’t know what you have, how can you know what it is worth?
- If neither side knows the true value of the case, get experts involved. Experts can help you both come to a conclusion about the value. (Although when both sides get one it is almost guaranteed they will say opposite things).
- Body language is important in face to face negotiations. The term "poker face" was popular for a reason. (Even before Lady Gaga).
- Know when to walk away from the bargaining table. Sometimes you are not going to get the price you want or even reach a compromise. It’s alright to leave the table and seek greener pastures or avenues.