Updated July 24, 2020:

A contract negotiation lawyer refers to an attorney who specializes in helping individuals or organizations that are entering into contracts negotiate for more favorable terms. It is very important to negotiate a contract before signing it because you will be legally bound to the contractual terms once the agreement is established. A contract negotiation lawyer can assist you in identifying the risks involved in a contract and provide advice on how to secure the best deal possible.

What Is Contract Negotiation?

In a contract negotiation, the participating parties discuss and compromise on contractual terms in order to arrive at a final agreement. It is the process of giving and taking that parties go through to come to an agreement. In most situations, each party to a contract will try to negotiate for his or her best interest. While there may be extensive back-and-forth communication, most contractual concerns boil down to revenues and risks. Types of contracts that are negotiable include:

  • Business deals
  • Real estate leases
  • Financial contracts
  • Manufacturer warranties
  • Employment contracts

The negotiation aspect of an agreement is very important because all the parties involved will be legally-bound to the contractual terms once the contract is final and cannot overlook the terms without being liable.

When Should You Consult a Lawyer?

Although contracts are legally binding, they may not always go according to plan. As such, it is wise to negotiate shrewdly, have a good understanding of all the contractual terms, and make the necessary preparations in case the contract fails. If you are planning to negotiate a contract, it is a good idea to hire an experienced business lawyer to help you prepare and conduct the negotiation.

Trained in negotiation, a contract lawyer can address all your contractual needs and preferences and communicate them to the other party. You should get your attorney involved in the negotiation process as early as possible because there may be many details to cover in certain types of agreements. It is easier to get things done from the start than go back to the drawing board when you find gaping holes in your deal.

What Does an Attorney Do in a Contract Negotiation?

In most situations, a business contract will have room for negotiation since both parties want to strike a fair deal that can help grow their businesses. It is during the negotiation that you can try to add in the things you want to make a better deal and eliminate the risks that come with the agreement. Risk is part and parcel of doing business, and both sides will share the risk involved. It is up to you how much risk you are willing to accept.

The responsibility of the attorney is to let you know that there is a risk involved and recommend a course of action, but you have to make the final decision. Once you are aware that you are taking a risk, you can take measures to reduce its potential impact.

The first thing you need to do when negotiating a contract is to determine what you want. This is often done when you are getting a legal opinion from your attorney. You need to identify your must-haves, good-to-haves, and things you do not care about. Then, you should try to find out what the other party wants and why he or she wants it. Brainstorm to come up with strategies for dealing with potentially sticky negotiating situations.

A lawyer usually recommends that contracting parties talk to each other directly before getting him or her involved in the negotiations. The communication can occur over the phone or via email, and it should involve discussion of the main points and getting an agreement on the proposed changes. The meeting of the minds between you and the other party will help keep your attorney on track when going through the details.

The party that proposes the changes will have his or her attorney make the desired changes to the contract, then send a clean copy and a “black line” version of the document with the changes highlighted to the other party. The other party's attorney will review the changes, identify any new risks, and provide advice for him or her. The contract may be bounced back and forth between you and the other party several times to hammer out the finer points. The lawyers may have to make one or two phone calls to complete the negotiation process.

If you need a good contract negotiation lawyer, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.