A team of sixth-formers from King William’s College has scooped the top place in a negotiation competition hosted by leading law firm Cains.

The inaugural Cains Negotiation Prize, which was specifically tailored for Year 12 students, took place in the company’s boardroom, giving students a real taste of negotiation in the corporate world.

The winning team was made up of Francesca (Chess) Warren, Emma Courtie, Molly Gibson and Jessica Stanley.

Set over three rounds, the competition pitted teams representing the local secondary schools against each other in a series of scenarios, including negotiating the latest sponsorship contract of a leading tennis star.

In the third and final round, King William’s College and Queen Elizabeth II High School were challenged with negotiating the proposed terms of a multi-million pound record deal between a major record label and an international singing sensation.

The final took place at Cains’ Fort Anne offices on February 20, with teachers from both schools and lawyers from Cains wowed by the performance of both teams.  Andrew Corlett OBE, Managing Director of Cains, said: “Our representatives were quite taken aback at the skill, enthusiasm and attitude of all the teams.  Most impressive of all was the speed at which the competitors adapted and improved over the course of the rounds, not least the final.

“Their performance was great testament to all of them as individuals and to their respective schools.  Indeed, it would be good to fast track a few of them to be part of the Isle of Man’s Brexit negotiations team!”

Niall Howell-Evans, Head of Academic Enrichment at King William’s College, observed:  “The students have really enjoyed the process, returning from each session buzzing with excitement.  Sixth Form students love to argue but it has been brilliant to see them test their skills in a formal setting.  Academic competition between the Island’s schools is a great way for them to test their mettle and to challenge themselves beyond the curriculum.  We’re very grateful to Cains for hosting such an excellent competition and hope to continue taking part in the coming years.”

The brainchild of Cains’ senior corporate lawyer Garry Manley, the competition was designed to help participants develop a range of skills, including public speaking, debating and team work.

Garry is no stranger to negotiation, having spent much of his career working on high-profile deals at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, the top international law firm which inspired American legal drama “Suits”.

He explained: “The art of negotiation is one attribute of life as a lawyer that young people perhaps understand and appreciate the least, despite being one of the most fun things that we do.  This competition was specifically designed to allow Year 12 students (who are currently making big decisions about their future careers) to experience the adrenaline rush of negotiating in a high-pressure situation.”

To help them further refine their negotiating skills, each finalist was presented with a copy of “Getting More” by Wharton Professor Stuart Diamond, the #1 book to read for your career according to The Wall Street Journal.

Garry added: “We were hugely impressed with the performance of all competitors, and we have no doubt they’ll all go on to be fantastic negotiators in the real world.

“All finalists performed to an exceptionally high standard.  As is often the case in real life, the negotiation came right down to the wire, and in the end KWC secured the best deal for their client.”

Summing up the experience, Chess Warren, the captain of the winning team, added:  “It was an excellent opportunity to be able to develop our negotiating and debating skills, surrounded by people as enthusiastic as we are for the topic.  The scenarios were interesting, allowing us to question difficult issues in the negotiation, such as ambiguities surrounding recording and sport contracts.

“I found it particularly insightful as this is the type of law I wish to pursue, and so being able to perform a negotiation in Cains’ boardroom was incredibly useful. On behalf of myself and my team, I would like to thank Cains for hosting this event, and helping us to develop our negotiating skills.”


The Cains Negotiation Prize will return in the next school year, with entries opening in September.