Working with Foreign Lawyers: Suggestions on How to Proceed

Image Source: Wikipedia

I came across an extremely informative article, cited below, which I encourage anyone with an interest in International Law but does not have much experience in the field, to read. I also recommend this article to anyone who has to work with foreign lawyers. Instead of only summarizing the article, I will supplement it with information from friends and professors.

When negotiating with lawyers or representatives from other countries, it is crucial to understand their cultural norms and practices, because perceived disrespect can kill a deal before negotiations even start. A friend once told me about his experiences in China and how they give gifts in the course of business. While we in the United States may consider this a “bribe,” it is important to at least be aware of what another country may expect from you when they wish to negotiate or do business. Hopefully, they would extend the same courtesy.

This not only extends to pleasantries, but also to understanding how people from other cultures think and approach negotiations. The reason this article caught my eye was because of the false presumption that “[t]he Japanese who nods his or her head in assent is in agreement with what you are saying.” One of my past professors has a large amount of experience with Japanese negotiations. As opposed to a Western “linear” style, they adopt a more circular approach. The nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon. Therefore, when they nod their heads, they are acknowledging, but not necessarily agreeing, and would often return to that point later on in the negotiation.

There are also presumptions other countries have of American lawyers, such as being, as the article puts it, “impulsive, arrogant, disrespectful, either too distant or too friendly, and certainly shrewd.” What are ways that we can rebut this presumption? Also, I am curious to hear other people’s experiences with foreign negotiations in either a professional setting or some kind of trial competition.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *