American Bar Association 

Co-Author: Nichole D. Atallah

Women who negotiate in their practices are used to seeing a familiar scene. The seats are often filled by men, and everyone becomes keenly aware that the only woman has entered the room. The male banter quiets a bit, they ask about her family, or they don’t talk to her at all. Perhaps she is wondering whether the men at the table are taking her seriously or whether they are willing to put less on the table because of their perceptions of her. Or perhaps she is thinking, “it doesn’t have to have an outcome like this” and is frustrated by the process. These concerns are not without merit. While women make up almost 50 percent of associates, only about 18 percent of partners and about 20 percent of general counsels are women, according to data as of January 2017. See Comm’n on Women in the Profession, Am. Bar Ass’n, A Current Glance at Women in the Law (2017). Chances are, whether negotiating for yourself or on behalf of a client, you frequently will find yourself negotiating with men in an environment cultivated by men. Even if your adversary is a woman, the same issues may exist because she likely was trained in this male-dominated environment and may subscribe to the same problem-solving techniques as her male peers.

As women in a field overwhelmingly dominated by men, it is our—the authors’—personal experience that characteristics often seen in women can be used to advantage in professional as well as personal negotiations. It’s all about finding a personal style and being unafraid to embrace it.

To read the entire article on the American Bar Association website, please click here

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