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Ringler Honolulu
Alexa Zen, J.D.
Lindsay Schoenecke
P.O. Box 11447
Honolulu, HI 96828
(808)521-7666 (Office)

Structure Strategies

Slumber Party Injury Successfully Resolved

Steve and his 10-year-old daughter Sarah do everything together, from fishing and shooting hoops to shopping for new clothes. Sarah’s mom left when Sarah was an infant and there were no other siblings. But when a bunch of Sarah’s friends invited her to her first slumber party, Steve was happy to let her go.

Two hours after dropping Sarah off, Steve was called to the hospital. Sarah had been playing on some exercise equipment, fell and badly cut her cheek. Later Steve discovered that the parents responsible for watching the girls were entertaining another couple.

Given the facts, both Steve’s lawyer and defense counsel knew that this case would be a roll of the dice at trial. Knowing that Steve’s first concern was Sarah’s future, they instead worked with a Ringler consultant to put together a structure. The plan would pay Sarah’s school loans after college and leave her enough to buy a car or put money down on a house.

Steve was delighted. He would avoid protracted litigation, which might sour Sarah’s relationship with her friends. And more important, he would never have to worry about having enough money to give Sarah a good start in life. In the end, both sides came out winners thanks to everyone’s focus on what was best for Sarah.

(Note: While Structure Strategies is based on actual Ringler case histories, the names and images of the people involved have been changed to protect their privacy.)

Successful Negotiation Is More
Than Just Winning

Negotiators at the top of their game listen.

So the young man’s lawyer says, “Okay, you may have a case against your landlord, but first tell me more about what you want.” Our entrepreneur talks about how he started the deli to pay for business school, how difficult it has been to make a go of it with all the restrictions, and now a nearby competitor. So the lawyer says, “I understand. Let me talk to the landlord, and I’ll get back in touch with you.”

“You’re right,” the lawyer says when he calls two days later, “we could sue. But what if I could get you a bigger sign, hot plates and a 33 percent reduction in rent as long as you allow the other deli to stay? Oh, and by the way, my experience has been that when you have two competing delis located close together, they actually bring in more business than one on its own.” The student said, “You can do that for me?” And the lawyer did. Profits soared for the student, and he was able to afford his dream to attend business school a year earlier than planned.

Know Your Client’s REAL Concerns

Would you have counseled the deli owner to sue? According to negotiation expert Seth Freeman, many lawyers would say yes because they are trained to win cases rather than focus first on the needs of the client. A professor in negotiation and conflict management at both NYU’s Stern School of Business and Columbia University, Freeman joins other experts who advocate an interests-based approach to negotiation that studies show often results in higher client satisfaction and improved earnings for the attorney.

It starts with preparation that goes beyond knowing all the legal arguments. “I tell law students to tattoo one question on their arm: ‘What does my client want and why?’ Don’t assume that the answer is always to get money or not pay money. If you dig deeper and go beyond these assumptions, many creative options open up that might bridge the differences between two parties.” Freeman, a former attorney himself, also points out that preparing to negotiate rather than just win a case makes a lot of sense since most litigation settles before ever reaching the courtroom.

Woman & Baby
Negotiation expert Seth Freeman talked about his new book on Ringler Radio. Listen now.

The Four Rs of Negotiation

In his book The Ready & Able Negotiator, Freeman outlines his unique approach to preparation for negotiating a case.

1) Listen. Studies show negotiators at the top of their game listen well. Listening sets up the Four Rs: reveal, respect, relax and resolve.

2) Reveal. Listening reveals information and insights you might have otherwise missed.

3) Respect. Show genuine respect for others in a negotiation because ...

4) Relax. Doing so sets people at ease. In fact hostage negotiators make respect a top priority in hostage negotiations.

5) Resolve. Listening and following the four Rs will help resolve conflict that might seem intractable otherwise.

The Ringler Collaborative

All Ringler Associates are trained to be responsive and respectful to the needs of everyone involved in settlement negotiations. Our goal is win, win, won!

  • Win ... for attorneys by providing them with the detailed information and recommendations they require to analyze how a structure will meet the needs of their client. 
  • Win ... for insurance professionals, in bridging the gap between a lump-sum offer and the expectations of the injured person with the greater payout, tax advantages and guarantees from a structure.
  • Won ... for the injured person (or a loved one), knowing a plan is in place that will guarantee income for life’s greatest obligations, and that they can finally move on without having to worry about managing a large sum of money.