A recent article over on the eSide that explained why you need to Focus on the Fine Print, while a little simplistic, did a great job of pointing out the most important thing you need to remember when you are in contract negotiations:
The advantage always goes to the drafting party.
Always. Why? Because the drafting party always takes home-court advantage. While it is theoretically possible to prepare a contract to the advantage of the other party, I’ve never seen it happen. Even the fairest contract I’ve ever seen gave home-court advantage to the drafting party in the section on Governing Law.
Thus, if you are given a choice as to whether you should start with your paper or their paper, start with yours. And then remember that:
The fairer the contract is, the faster the negotiations will go.
You should only take the advantage where you absolutely need it. If you try to take it in every clause, the other party will likely be insulted at your lack of willingness to at least offer a few concessions and negotiations will not go well.
Remember that the point of a good contract is to build a framework for a problem-free working relationship. Keep that in mind, and drafting will go easier.