Negotiation Ethics for Lawyers: From “Alternative Facts” to “Paltering”

Zach McGee Ted Russell
March 01, 2017
Legal Ethics


Continuing their popular “Negotiation Ethics for Lawyers” series, Ted Russell and Zach McGee take on the use of “alternative facts” and “paltering” in negotiations to explore whether such behavior by lawyers is ethical. “Paltering” – the active use of truthful statements to create a false impression – 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, the presenters 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.


Zach McGee, Senior Vice President, Business Affairs, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Los Angeles, CA

Ted Russell, Executive Vice President, Business Affairs, Digital, Home Entertainment and Television Distribution, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Los Angeles, CA

Zach leads worldwide business affairs for Sony’s home entertainment division. Before moving to Sony, he was the Senior Vice President, Head of Business & Legal Affairs at Miramax, a leading independent film and television studio. Before joining Miramax, Zach was a Vice President, Legal Affairs, with NBC Universal, Inc. Prior to moving in-house, he was an associate with Davis Polk. Zach clerked for the Honorable Michael B. Mukasey, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. 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 also has taught negotiation ethics for lawyers as an Adjunct Professor at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University.

Ted negotiates deals for the distribution of film and television content in digital and traditional media. Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President, Litigation, for Fox Entertainment Group, handling all manner of legal problems faced by Fox's film, television, cable, sports and Internet properties. Ted has substantial experience litigating in state and federal courts. He has lectured on topics ranging from electronic discovery to crisis management. But his true academic interest arises in the context of negotiations, and specifically the legal, ethical, and practical limitations imposed on lawyers participating in negotiations. Ted serves as a Lecturer in Law at USC Gould School of Law, where he teaches a course in Negotiation Ethics, and as an Adjunct Professor at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University. Before joining Fox in 1998, he was a business and employment litigator at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

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