Whether it happens informally on the telephone or in a more formal face-to-face meeting, the beginning of a negotiation can be critical to its success. First words and impressions are lasting; if you get off to the wrong start, it can erode trust, dampen optimism about the outlook for settlement, and increase the probability of deadlock.
Before negotiating a settlement, it is worthwhile to think about the client’s purpose in settling. Is it to right a wrong? To avoid litigation at whatever expense? To protect the client’s reputation or ensure confidentiality? Is it a combination of purposes? There are many valid reasons to settle a case, but they should be pursued only after counsel and client have considered a more fundamental purpose.