Negotiation Tip: Best and Final Offer

“How do you know when the other side has reached their limit in a negotiation?” asked Marcia Green, a third year law student, who was clerking for Sam Jones this summer.  Jones was 65 years old, thin, tall, with a shock of black, grey and white hair brushed back.  He wore an expensive, tailored suit and gold colored wire frame glasses.

“The code words are best and final offer,” said Sam.  “It means take it or leave it.  No counteroffer will be considered.  If you leave it, we will see you in court.”

“It sounds rather serious,” said Marcia.

“It is,” said Sam.  “If you say it, you and your client must be ready to walk away from the negotiation and try your case.  But you must use it sparingly and only when all else fails.  I almost never say it.”

“Why is that?” asked Marcia.

“Because, if you or your client settles for anything less than your best and final offer, the opposing counsel will never believe anything you say ever again.  That goes for this case and any future cases you will have against the same counsel.”