WFJ Presents: Contract Drafting and Negotiation: Teaching an Older Dog a New Trick

I’m reading a great book now called “Second Chance Dog,” by John Katz. If the recent wave of cold weather has caused you to spend more time reading, I recommend adding this great, easy read to your list. The title gave me the inspiration for a new trick I learned today in a contract negotiation. So I’m the older dog with twenty-seven years of legal practice, and here’s the new trick I learned, which perhaps you already knew.

I was negotiating a telecommunications contract with a company and was trying to get rid of an evergreen (auto renewal) clause. The person on the other side kept saying company policy dictated she could not change the language. Given that every year I have clients calling us after their contract automatically renews because they forgot to diary the date, I was adamant about not giving in.

Finally after a lengthy discussion, the person whispered “If that’s your last issue, how about signing with all the other changes we agreed to and then sending a termination letter in the same envelope. That will defeat the evergreen provision.” Although you need to think about other possible consequences, I thought this could be a neat way to avoid an unintended renewal caused by an evergreen provision with a stubborn vendor. Score one point for the older dog.

Gary Van Domelen