This quote is so true, but the key word is “sometimes”. No lawyer can promise to make lemonade from lemons every time. However, you should expect your attorney to help assess your situation and offer straight answers about your rights, obligations and options.
“Bad deals” take many forms: a customer that’s costing you money; a vendor that can’t or won’t deliver; a strategic partnership that’s hindering your freedom; an acquisition with more “hair on it” than you can expected; a key hire that is now clearly a bad fit; a financial commitment you can no longer afford…
Here are some do’s and don’ts for executives struggling with a business dispute or bad contract:
- assess your negotiating leverage based on business and economic factors
- get professional legal advice
- designate a lead negotiator who is unemotional about the dispute
- manage the dispute in a manner consistent with your company’s values
- expect to settle quickly based on the good relationship you had in the past
- expect to settle quickly if either side is motivated by “principles”, greed or emotion
- expect the other side to interpret the contract or remember the negotiations the same way you do
- expect the problem to go away by itself*
* In some cases it’s sensible to ignore the situation, but analyze your obligations and alternatives before deciding what to do or not do.