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‘The ability to successfully negotiate on a client’s behalf is an essential skill for any lawyer. It’s a skill that applies in a range of contexts, not just litigation and dispute resolution. If you can learn the art of negotiation, it will make a big difference to your success in legal practice’.
– Rob Cutler, Chief Executive Partner, Clayton Utz
What is involved?
Negotiation involves a mock mediation. Two parties receive a set of general facts which explains the dispute. Each side then receives a set of “confidential facts” which reveal your clients side of the argument, what they want and what they can negotiate. The negotiation runs for roughly an hour which encompasses a 40 minute negotiation, a 5 minute time out which can be requested by either party at any time. There is also a 5 minute self-reflection section after the negotiation followed by some commentary by the judge.
To succeed you need to prepare. You don’t necessarily have to complete research for the negotiation but sometimes it helps to get your head around a particular concept or try to get an edge on your opponents. No need to reference cases and any law’s you may need to refer to will be provided in general facts.
At the start of the negotiation one team will be seated at the table waiting whilst the other will enter. When you come to the table shake hands and introduce yourselves. Once you take your seats you should exchange and talk about an “Agenda” (This shouldn’t reveal your confidential facts) which will guide the order of points which you and the opposition want to address. Take 5 mins to review the other team’s agenda and agree on a starting point.
Negotiations will then begin with both parties explaining the interest of each party and working through each point in the plan. For each point, both parties will have something they want for their client – try to find an outcome which is best for your client but is also fair for the other party. Use the negotiation as a whole i.e. if you concede one point then push to get more of what your clients wants in another section.
If you start feeling frustrated, remember to stay calm and slowly work through each issue systematically. If you feel like you are running out of time and continue going in circles, take a 5 minute break with your team member, discuss strategy, regather your thoughts and come back.
Whilst getting both parties to agree on the day is excellent it doesn’t have to happen. In practice, negotiations can go for months so it is fine to say that an issue can be resolved at a later date.
Total marks are out of 100 with 10 marks allocated per each section
These are how the rounds are marked but be aware that these points are allocated for the whole negotiation and not in isolation.
For more information, refer to the Competitions Guide.
We acknowledge the long-term sponsor of our negotiation competition, Clayton Utz, and thank them for their support.