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It’s day 5 of my 2 week summer scheme placement with Shearman & Sterling. And I’m in a half-day workshop to learn some of the finer skills of negotiation.
A partner from Structured Finance, Julian Tucker, begins by talking us through some of the do’s and don’ts of negotiation. He suggests how best to approach a negotiation scenario – and how the skills gained in the session may be useful in everyday situations. It’s an interesting insight as he covers topics such as different negotiating styles and body language tips.
We’re then put in pairs and given a fictionalised scenario. The scenarios are either an employment issue or a joint venture proposition, and they are a few pages long. My negotiation buddy and I are on one side negotiating with two other participants who have been given the same scenario but are negotiating from an opposing perspective (eg buyer vs seller, company vs employee). We’re given 30 minutes to prepare.
Then, watched by an associate solicitor, we get to put our newly honed skills into practice as each team negotiates on behalf of their client. We have 30 minutes. Things can become quite heated as each team argues on behalf of their client and tries to negotiate a settled conclusion within the allotted time.
The associate subsequently gives feedback on our negotiation skill strengths and weaknesses and announces who won that round.
The negotiation workshop is really great – and testament to the thought Shearman & Sterling give to creating an engaging, challenging and fun vacation scheme. You’re put under pressure, but this exercises teaches you how to conduct yourself in a commercial and legal environment better than any amount of reading ever can!
A tip: the key is to prepare carefully how you will structure your arguments within the 30 minutes you’re given, and then to be confident when you speak; those are the skills which will help make you a good lawyer…