Review Betting the Company:  Complex Negotiation Strategies for Law and Business by Andrew Trask & Andrew DeGuire; Oxford University Press, 2013. 

Life is negotiation.  Whether negotiating something as simple as whether to have that second donut for breakfast, negotiating a work deadline, deciding with your colleagues where to eat for lunch or negotiating your salary, we are all faced with daily decisions that must be negotiated, both simple and more complex.  In business transactions and litigation, however, negotiations can become extremely complex with multiple entities, conflicting personalities, cultural differences, short timelines and a wide variety of issues and problems to be solved.  It can be extremely difficult for a company or business team to juggle these many moving parts to come to a resolution that is beneficial for all parties and in which each party feels they got what they most wanted in a deal.  It can take years to master the craft of successful complex negotiation.  In Betting the Company:  Complex Negotiation Strategies for Law and Business, authors Andrew Trask and Andrew DeGuire, both highly knowledgeable consultants and negotiators with over 30 years of combined experienced, attempt to tear apart the myriad pieces of complex negotiations to help the reader recognize the key parts and best methods for overcoming difficult negotiations to achieve the best results.

Rather than creating a work that should be read from cover-to-cover, the authors have split the book into two distinct parts with chapters further broken down into distinct elements.  It is designed to allow the reader to easily identify specific negotiation issues to help them in dealing with problems they might encounter in their own negotiations.  The first part identifies the various elements of complex negotiation and offers practical suggestions for dealing with the problems and issues related to these elements.  The second part offers a framework for conducting different types of complex negotiations.  It includes discussion of multi-national regulatory and intercultural issues as well as the importance of proper intelligence gathering and analysis.    

While quite thorough in covering the topic with several practical, real-world examples to illustrate the elements being described, it could have used more.  Unless the reader is already well-versed in complex negotiation (making this book unnecessary), it is important to give the novice and intermediate negotiator stories to assist in making connections which will help them better understand this complex topic. 

This book would be a helpful addition to a business or law firm library collection, especially for those who are either new or inexperienced negotiators.  It can be an excellent tool for an experienced law firm partner to give to a young associate or for a senior executive to pass on to a new team member to bring them up to speed on specific negotiation issues without forcing them to read the whole book.  (Having read the book start to finish, I can verify that it is a slog and not something that is easy to read cover-to-cover, even at only around 300 pages.  It is best digested in discreet bits as the authors intended.)  In addition, it can be an important reminder to experienced negotiators of the many moving parts involved in a negotiation so they can avoid pitfalls and offer guidance to less-experienced associates.        

Though we all faced negotiation on a daily basis, it is rare for most people, beyond extremely experienced practitioners, to deal with complex negotiations.  On those rare occasions, Betting the Company is a beneficial tool for understanding and effectively dealing with the issues inherent in closing complex deals.

© Matthew R. Elisha. 2014. Reference Librarian, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, Denver, CO.