Everyone knows that leverage is a powerful negotiating tool.  Leverage does not mean you threaten to expose your opponent’s deep dark secret unless he concedes.  The most powerful leverage is knowledge, pure and simple.  You have to know your opponent’s position better than he does.  Recognize ahead of time what points your opponent will make and find a way to discredit them.  Sometimes young lawyers are tempted emulate the TV lawyer who makes people shake when he walks into a room and they think being a successful negotiator means being tough, getting everything you want, and giving nothing.  But, that is just being a bully.  And no one likes a bully.

The best way to gain leverage is by using the skills you already have as an attorney – legal research and writing.  When you have thoroughly researched your issues, clearly communicated your position and pointed out the weaknesses in your opponent’s arguments you create leverage.  If you create enough leverage, your opponent may agree to something less than they want for fear of receiving nothing.  So, next time you conduct research for a motion think of it as gaining power.

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