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media.148 - Negotiation American Style Jonathan M Lourie...

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SUPPOSE YOU REPRESENT a non-U.S. client, and that client wants you to negotiate a business deal with a domestic company in the United States. This should be easy enough, shouldn’t it? You’ll be doing the negotiation, so it doesn’t matter what the client does or doesn’t know about the United States. So it’s a big coun- try? There are a lot of regional differences? It doesn’t make a difference, since you’ll be doing the negotiating, not the client, correct? And so what if the client has some ideas and assump- tions about the United States that might not square with reality? (How likely is this given the wonderful impressions of the United States to be gleaned from the media?) Again, so long as you are in the driver’s seat during the negotia- tion, it really doesn’t matter much, right? 57 Jonathan M. Lourie Group. Mr. Lourie represents foreign technology companies in negotiating acquisitions, complex licenses and joint ven- tures in the United States. Jonathan M. Lourie Your non-U.S. client might not have the same ideas about how to negotiate with a U.S. business that you have. You need to help the client learn about American negotiating styles, and you need to learn a little from the client, too. Negotiation American Style ✰✰
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Wrong! To the contrary, it makes an enor- mous amount of difference. To do a good job of negotiating on behalf of a non-U.S. client you need to rethink certain assumptions that would not otherwise play a role in a wholly domestic context. (To put it another way, you need to be aware of the fact that your culture affects the way you think, and that “thinking like an American” may not be the best thing to do at every stage of this process.) The converse can be true, too. There are assumptions and miscon- ceptions held by non-U.S. businesses about the subtleties of negotiating and transacting busi- ness in the United States, which may adversely affect how the client wants you to negotiate the deal. The very process of negotiation is very dif- ferent across cultures. If your client has expecta- tions that are not met, or insists on things that are at odds with American-style negotiation, the process can collapse in short order. Obviously the intricacies of this topic go far beyond this short article, but the following “Rules of Thumb” can be helpful in planning the representation of the non-U.S. client in ne- gotiations with U.S. business interests. RULE OF THUMB NO. 1: DON’T ASSUME KNOWLEDGE • Due to a U.S.-centric ap- proach to business, U.S. attorneys may be prone to assume that the non-U.S. client, even one that as had significant business in the United States, understands U.S. laws, markets, regionalism and other attributes of doing business in the United States. This is not always the case. Therefore, a key step in assisting the non-U.S. client in under- standing U.S. laws is to educate the non-U.S.
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media.148 - Negotiation American Style Jonathan M Lourie...

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