Tough talking students make their case

STUDENTS DEBATE: Finalists in the Ellis Jones Solicitors Commercial Negotiation Competition with judges and organisers. In the back row from left are legal placement Howard Hasan, partner Ian Butterworth, managing partner Nigel Smith, partner Kate Brooks, associate solicitor Conor Maher and trainee solicitor Dayna Rodrigues. At the front are the four finalists from Bournemouth University: overall winner Calum MacAskill, and winning team member Alexander Chance, with Neil Holland, and Elliot Moreve.

Law students went head to head in Ellis Jones Solicitors’ first commercial negotiation competition in partnership with Bournemouth University.

They argued their cases in early rounds at the university before a grand final between two teams in the regional law firm’s boardroom at its head office in Bournemouth.

Calum MacAskill and Alexander Chance faced Neil Holland and Elliot Moreve as the duos used their powers of persuasion in a complex negotiation over a fictional football transfer dispute.

Calum and Alexander formed the winning team, and Calum was named overall winner and was awarded a coveted legal placement year with Ellis Jones. Alexander, Neil, and Elliot all received a vacation scheme placement for a fortnight’s work experience over the summer.

Associate solicitor Conor Maher, who organised the competition, said: “It was a fantastic success.

“There was a strong uptake by students who were given a unique opportunity to gain exposure to the negotiation process and hone their skills, whilst learning more about our firm and the way we work.

“There is always fierce competition for our legal placements, and so we thought that a commercial negotiation competition would be a fair and innovative way to identify the most suitable candidates. I don’t know of any other law firm in the region which does this.”

Managing partner Nigel Smith added: “Congratulations to all of the finalists who performed brilliantly under considerable pressure.

“Calum articulated his points incredibly well, and reacted adeptly to the positions and propositions of his opponent.

“We look forward to working with him during his year’s placement and the other finalists on their vacation scheme placements.”

The final was judged by Ellis Jones managing partner Nigel Smith, partner and head of employment/HR services Kate Brooks and partner Ian Butterworth with assistance by associate solicitor Conor Maher, legal placement Howard Hasan and trainee solicitor Dayna Rodrigues.

Calum, who is in his second year at Bournemouth University, said: “My thanks to all at Ellis Jones for the opportunity. It was fantastic and definitely a great experience to use for the future.”

Ellis Jones – with more than 170 staff including 23 partners – places a strong emphasis on staff development and promoting from within. Many students on previous legal placements have gone on to gain full-time positions at the firm.

Ellis Jones has six offices in Bournemouth, Poole, Ringwood, Swanage, Wimborne and London.