Monday, 5 March 2012

Back to school - REDOC

So, after a fairly restful reading week, I found myself back at BPP.

The main change this term has been the addition of a "REDOC" class. What is this mysterious acronym, you ask? Simply: the REsolution of Disputes Out of Court. REDOC, eh? Geddit?

The course covers negotiation, mediation, arbitration and a whole host of seemingly other pointless dispute resolution methods. I'm being glib. Of course they're not useless, but the way they are taught and assessed is beyond useless.

I mean, BPP does its best. It makes sure we know the syllabus, but the tutors' hands are tied by the fact that an area which is very skills-heavy is assessed in a purely academic way.

In previous years the REDOC course was simply knows as "Negotiation" and was examined in the same way as conference or advocacy - the providers would hire a whole bunch of actors, and you'd sit in a room and scream in their face for 12 minutes about all the money they owe you.

Now, you get given a text book, you're told that every page is examinable, and then you sit a two hour paper (half multiple choice, half short answer questions). You are taught about very practical things in very abstract ways.

Instead of using your experience and intuition to negotiate, now you need to be able to demonstrate that you understand BATNAs and WATNAs. Two more entirely useless acronyms.

They are the "Best (and Worst) Alternatives To a Negotiated Agreement". Effectively: what's the best result for my client if we go into court, and how much can they lose. And then you use these artificially constructed figures to estimate a reasonable settlement. Seems effective? No. Because in our text book we're told that we should take litigation risk into account when estimating the best result, but not when estimating the worst result.

In other words if you think you have a 70% chance of winning, you multiply the best result by 70%, but leave the worst settlement as it is. It doesn't make sense mathematically or practically. It's just nonsense. But we're examined on the nonsense, so learn it I did.

The exam itself was a few days ago, on Friday 2 March. I'll tell you all about it in my next post.

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