During his fall break, Duke law 3L Eric Anderson vacationed in the Dominican Republic, staying in an all-inclusive resort in Playa Dorado on the northern coast of the island. Anderson tanned on the beach, consumed copious amounts of rum-infused drinks and checked out the nightlife in the neighboring town of Puerto Plata. The 3L, who had recently broke up with his girlfriend of two years, soon realized that there was one thing in the DR he hadn't experienced.
"I heard that the Dominican Republic was an easy place to obtain the services of, shall we say, ladies of the night," remarked Anderson. "Of course I was excited to find myself a sexy Latina but I was also nervous considering I had never before bargained for sex."
The 3L's worries were soon assuaged when he realized that he had already completed a semester of legal negotiations where he learned, through practical in-class exercises and theoretical readings, the art of deal-making. From that moment on, Anderson was quite confident that he would come to beneficial arrangement with a chosen prostitute.
After discretely asking a couple of bellhops at his hotel where he could find a nice Dominican call girl, Anderson arranged a meeting with a lady named Yacqueline at a local cafe.
"Yacqueline was absolutely smoking," remembered Anderson. "But I tried not to let that distract me from the task at hand. My first priority was bargain efficiently and effectively, obtaining the services I wanted for a reasonable price."
From the beginning of the talks, the Duke Law student employed strategies taught to him during last semester's negotiation class.
"Unlike less experienced bargainers I didn't broach the subject of price right away," related Anderson. "Instead I engaged in an information stage where I learned more about Jackie's background and what she's comfortable with, professionally speaking. This made her feel more at ease and conveyed to me crucial information including the different types of services she is willing to perform."
Anderson also gauged that this would be a friendly negotiation with considerable room for agreement.
"I realized quite early that the ZOPA [Zone of Possible Agreement] here was quite large," stated Anderson. "Therefore, instead of employing an adversarial negotiating style, I chose to be cooperative in order to facilitate a mutually beneficial outcome."
As suggested by Effective Legal Negotiation and Settlement, the text book for Anderson's negotiations course, the 3L analyzed both his and his potential escort's best alternative to a negotiated agreement or BATNA.
"I understood that if this deal didn't come to fruition I would be stuck jerking off in my hotel room while Yacqueline would be out some serious American cash," reasoned Anderson. "I knew that we both wanted this deal."
The law student exploited other more subtle factors to further signal his desire to consummate an agreement.
"I purposefully chose to sit a round table and made sure that my eye contact and posture demonstrated that I was serious about coming to a serious bargain," said Anderson. "I also made sure to recognize Yaqueline's body language which told me that while she was amenable to various kinky arrangements, an oil-covered midget was not one of them."
Anderson added that he remembered to make principled concessions in order demonstrate to the hooker that he wasn't unreasonable or creepy. He recalled that during the talks he promised not to tie her up which made her more willing to "agree to do that thing with the banana, whipped cream and chocolate sauce."
Also crucial to his eventual success, Anderson averred, was that he bargained integratively, always looking for novel, win-win solutions.
"We almost came to an impasse when Yaqueline said she only had an hour free when what I was looking for was at least a two hour party," Anderson remarked. "However, instead of walking away or accepting this sub-optimal outcome I looked for a creative fix and suggested that she bring a friend. As I was taught in negotiations, it's important to invent options for mutual gain."
The two sides then finally broached the issue of price.
"I told her what I wanted and she responded with a very reasonable number," stated the 3L. "An experienced negotiator though never agrees to the first offer so I exuded nonchalance even though I was quite willing to pay what she requested."
After some back and forth, Anderson and the prostitute agreed to a payment as well as the services to be performed. The 3L remarked that he was happy with the deal because he got a lot of he wanted for a good price and that the friendly negotiation created good rapport between him and the whore ensuring mutually beneficial future transactions.
Roger Fisher, co-author of "Getting to Yes," a book about proper negotiating techniques, believes that Anderson's success has important lessons.
"Eric's situation demonstrates that it's not a good idea to shoot one's wad prematurely by accepting a first offer and that it's not always useful to negotiate as if you just wanted to nail the other side," posited Fisher. "Moreover, I am glad to see that this whole process ended with quite a bang."