Negotiation Ethics For Lawyers (Introduction)

Zach McGee Ted Russell
March 15, 2016
Legal Ethics


As a lawyer, you negotiate on behalf of clients practically every day. You know the ethics rules require you to be truthful and not to mislead the other side but how do you apply those general pronouncements in a context where puffing, posturing and concealing one’s bottom line are more the rule than the exception?

This program will use a hypothetical negotiation between lawyers representing a writer seeking to sell a literary property to several studios, illustrating how the rules of ethics apply when lawyers act as negotiators. The speakers will draw upon their considerable research in this area, as well as their skills and experience negotiating in similar contexts. Participants will walk away with concrete, practical advice, including:

•What you can and cannot misrepresent or conceal in a negotiation and why;
•How to handle tricky issues such as estimates of price or value, willingness to compromise, bottom lines and settlement authority;
•What statements of law or fact may be considered “material” in negotiations; and
•When puffing, posturing and exaggerating cross the line.

This program will benefit both litigators and transactional attorneys, as it includes examples drawn from both litigation and deal-making scenarios.


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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