The following points are a guide to planning and preparing for a negotiation.
1. IDENTIFY THE ISSUE
Background and context – Analyse the background and context to the issue. Each issue has its own particular background and history that is important to know and acknowledge in a negotiation.
Power and positions of the parties – Look at the power and positions that the different parties will have in the negotiation you are preparing for. For example, a municipality wants to build a road through a town. To do this it needs to move people living there. The people are not prepared to move until the municipality finds them acceptable alternative land. The municipality has the power of its official position and it has the power of the law behind it (under the Constitution property can be expropriated in certain circumstances). The community also has the power of the law (they cannot be arbitrarily evicted from the land or be evicted without a court order). The community also has the power of large numbers.
2. DEFINE YOUR OBJECTIVES
Work out your key points and what you want to achieve in the negotiation.
3. BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR MANDATE
As a paralegal you will be representing either a person or a group in negotiations. You must know what your mandate is from that person or group. In other words, you must know exactly what they want and how much they are prepared to compromise.
4. SELECT A TEAM
Select a negotiation team. It is usually better to have more than one person in a negotiating team.
5. GET TO KNOW THE OTHER SIDE
You need to have as much information as possible about the people in the party you are negotiating against. For example, you need to know what their interests and needs are in the issue, their strengths, weaknesses, problems and pressures.
6. PLAN YOUR PRESENTATION
Organise all the information you have gathered in a logical format so that it can be used in the negotiation.