Ernest Wechsler is an avid student of negotiation, which he views in broad terms as a form of communication. “So much of life and dealing well with other people is recognizing that people have differing interests,” said Wechsler, chair of the corporate group at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP in New York, on this week’s Drinks With The Deal podcast.
That insight is especially helpful when dealing with lawyers who may not be specialists in a given subject area. Wechsler often advises private equity sponsors when they buy businesses from founders or families, who, he said, often have a close relationship with a longtime lawyer who isn’t an M&A practitioner.
“The person may be expecting the New York treatment,” Wechsler said. “When you’re dealing with a founder’s lawyer, you need to respect that person. There’s a reason that person’s in the room, and it’s because he gives valuable advice.”
Wechsler prefers to negotiate in person, though he adapted quickly to Zoom, which “reduces people’s willingness to stake out ridiculous positions,” because it allows parties to see one another he said.
Wechsler prefers a collegial style. “Don’t be obnoxious,” he said. “You may mess something up, and you may need to go to the other side and ask for a favor. If you’ve been graceful and respectful, it’s easier to do that.”
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