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Beware the perils of over-negotiating the terms of an offer ….

Occasionally as a recruiter I am surprised at how far a candidate is willing to seek to negotiate the terms of what is ostensibly a fair or good offer made by a firm to the candidate.

Obviously if the candidate is a lawyer then they will realise that this is probably the only time they are going to have an opportunity to have the terms of their employment contract amended in their favour.

At the same time the candidate should remember that once talks with a firm have reached offer stage, the firm is clearly keen to hire the candidate and therefore there is a certain amount of goodwill between the firm and candidate. But such goodwill is not inexhaustible.

If after making what it perceives is a fair or good offer the firm is then presented with a lengthy list of counter-demands, whether relating to salary, holiday provisions, restrictive covenants etc, the firm can begin to suspect that the candidate is also going to be unduly demanding in nature once the candidate starts work with them, especially if the negotiations are not concluded reasonably swiftly and the candidate continues to nit-pick at length over each and every point in issue.

I have more than once in the past had to advise a candidate during negotiations on their behalf that they seriously risked having their offer withdrawn because the firm was beginning to grow exasperated with the candidate’s demands.

Sometimes some lawyers forget the slight difference in nature between negotiating the terms of their own employment contract and negotiating the terms of a commercial contract on behalf of their client with another law firm.

What works in the latter situation is not necessarily appropriate for the former situation, simply because of the different dynamics in the employer/employee relationship.

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