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With this marvelous book on negotiation, “Architect’s Essentials of Contract Negotiation”, by  Ava J. Abramowitz, Esq., Published by John Wiley & Sons, copyright 2002 (286 pages) provides a most excellent public service to design professionals and all other participants in the construction industry. If more people followed the advice contained in this book, there would be more trust between parties, more effective risk management, better projects, happier project participants, and less litigation. This book challenged my own thinking, as I’m sure it will challenge yours. If you follow her reasoning, you will find yourself asking more questions to help focus on your client’s problems and needs, and you will learn to listen to them better so that you will propose solutions that go beyond their design needs and reach their basic business and personal concerns. Not only will the principles of communication and negotiation make you more effective in relationships with your clients, you may even find yourself listening better to your spouse and children. I think that all of us who learn to apply the principles of communication and negotiation so artfully and enjoyably explained by Ava, will better appreciate that we negotiate every day over little (and sometimes big) matters. Ava encourages us to approach negotiation from a new perspective instead of the tired old concepts of hard and soft negotiation, win-lose negotiation, or even win-win negotiation. Negotiation, as she explains, does not fit into simple formulas; it does not have to be complex; and it certainly does not need to be intimidating or dreaded. Whether you negotiate contracts with clients or just haggle with your boss, employees or co-workers over every-day decisions in the office or in the field, this book is must reading. I highly recommend this book not only for design professionals but for other project participants and their attorneys.

Personal anecdotes and war stories from the author’s experience, as Deputy General Counsel of the American Institute of Architects (“AIA”) and Risk Management Services Director of a major insurance company, bring this book to life. Highlighted boxes of text sprinkled throughout the book help emphasize and organize key principles. The friendly, conversational writing style, with numerous succinct headings, subheadings, bullets and lists, make for enjoyable and easy reading, and virtually assures that this book will become a continuous reference.

About the author: Article written by J. Kent Holland, Jr.,  a construction lawyer located in Tysons Corner, Virginia,  with a national practice (formerly with Wickwire Gavin, P.C. and now with Construction Risk Counsel, PLLC) representing design professionals, contractors and project owners.  He is founder and president of a consulting firm, ConstructionRisk, LLC, providing consulting services to owners, design professionals, contractors and attorneys on construction projects.  He is publisher of ConstructionRisk.com Report and may be reached at Kent@ConstructionRisk.com or by calling 703-623-1932.  This article is published in ConstructionRisk.com Report, Vol. 4, No. 9 (Oct 2002).

Copyright 2002, ConstructionRIsk.com, LLC