Negotiate, negotiate

I've just finished negotiating yet another compromise agreement under the Bar Council's Direct Access provisions.

Being made redundant is a traumatic and difficult time for anyone. Whilst some may treat the termination of their employment with a sense of relief, there is often the lingering sense of abandonment, of not knowing what's around the corner. I think it's important for those of us who are responsible for fighting on behalf of our clients to remember that there are good reasons to strive for the highest settlement possible.

Slowly more and more people are waking up to the realisation that they can instruct a barrister directly, for a large and increasing number of problems they might face. It's not always legal work - I have a skill-set, developed through nearly 15 years of advocacy experience that is invaluable to many, in many different areas of business. More about that in a later post.

One of our most prized skills at the Bar is our ability to negotiate. It's not just something we learn on the job; it's part of our training, deeply embedded in the mind of any advocate. All those studying for their Bar exams are trained and examined in negotiation skills, such is the importance placed upon them.

When we start in practice, and build our work over the years, we find ourselves using and honing these skills on a daily basis. Almost every aspect of legal practice demands you negotiate effectively. I find these skills invaluable when negotiating employment settlements, and have had considerable success as a result. Often I find myself negotiating with someone in HR, with little experience or skill when it comes to persuading the other side. That's not to say such an adversary is easy to deal with -often they assume an entrenched position early on, and I need to find ways to get around that position. The skill in negotiating, as all advocacy is being able to view things from a number of perspectives.

It's for those reasons that more and more people are turning to barristers to negotiate on their behalf. We have the skills, and we're very good at it. Everywhere you look in business or law there is a need for negotiation, to come to agreements where both sides give and take until they reach the best possible deal for whomever they are representing. As a barrister particularly, it's very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your ability to negotiate is confined to the strictures of the courtroom, or conference room, and that there is no way anyone in business could possibly have any use for a barrister.

Many of us have the talent, skills and ability. It's just a question of marketing - getting the message out there, that a barrister is an important weapon in any business armoury.