Negotiation Ethics for Lawyers: Is “Paltering” Ethical?

Zach McGee
May 27, 2023
Legal Ethics


In the latest installment in the popular “Negotiation Ethics for Lawyers” series, Zach McGee examines the use of “paltering” in negotiations – the active use of truthful statements to create a false impression – to explore whether such behavior by lawyers is ethical. Paltering is a way of deceiving the other side that differs both from lying by commission – where you misstate facts – and lying by omission – where you fail to provide information. In this program, you’ll not only learn to spot when the other side in a negotiation is paltering but also to understand why paltering works so well and why people have such different views on whether it is ethical. Using a hypothetical negotiation between lawyers, Zach will review the ethics rules that apply to lawyers in negotiations and discuss whether paltering in this context is permitted by the rules. You’ll also learn some negotiation techniques that you can use when your opponent is paltering to protect yourself and your client from being deceived.


Zachary S. McGee, Senior Vice President, Business Affairs, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Los Angeles, CA

Zach McGee is a Senior Vice President, Business Affairs, for Sony Pictures Entertainment in Los Angeles where he negotiates distribution deals for feature films and television series. Before joining Sony Pictures, Zach held senior in-house legal positions at NBCUniversal and Miramax. Zach began his career as a law clerk to the Honorable Michael B. Mukasey, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and as an associate with DavisPolk in New York, New York, and Menlo Park, California. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and he received his Masters of Business Administration from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Zach is also a successful entrepreneur and founder of educational content companies in the legal space.

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