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‘Win-Win’ vs. ‘Win-Lose’ Solutions

When representing a client in court, trial attorneys are trained to go for the win. When a serious amount of money or an individual’s liberty is at stake, a litigator is focused on achieving a victory for his or her client at the expense of the other side.

But there are plenty of other situations in law and in life where the optimal outcome is a win-win solution. In a divorce case, for example, both sides should try to find an outcome that’s best for the children.

The same principle can also apply when negotiating a business transaction. In many cases, the success of a deal depends on whether both parties benefit in some way from the agreement. If a contract, for instance, favors one side too heavily, the other party may be reluctant to comply with the terms or challenge them in court.

There are many ways that an aggressive, win-at-all costs strategy can backfire in life as well as in law. It’s certainly detrimental to marital, parenting and other personal relationships. After all, who wants to be around someone who insists on having his way, puts other people down, or refuses to acknowledge a mistake.

Unfortunately, the win-lose approach now dominates our nation’s political thinking. All too often, Republicans and Democrats look at pressing social, financial, judicial and even military decisions from the framework of “us versus them.”  

Back in 2010, the Democratic majority in Congress passed the Affordable Healthcare Act, which incorporated principles the Republican Party had espoused in the 1990s.

But the “win-lose” nature of that Congressional victory sparked years of contention, marked by court challenges and attempts to repeal or dismantle the “Obamacare” law. Since Democrats liked the law, Republicans were determined to overturn it, regardless of the impact on individuals, families and healthcare providers.

Now, the Republican-controlled Congress has approved major changes to the nation’s tax code without input from their Democratic counterparts. Again, we have a situation where one party has rushed legislation through Congress to gain a “win” at the expense of the other party without the back-and-forth discussions that are so important when crafting new laws.

Looking ahead to 2018, I hope that South Florida's local, state and federal officials can change that "us against them" partisan mindset, and strive for win-win solutions that can bring lasting, positive change to our community.

Richard Westlund


January 8, 2018

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