David Flaws BSc (Hons) PhD Dip Tchng MNZAC

I’m a pakeha male. I have a string of degrees, although most of my academic knowledge isn’t relevant to my ability to deal with disputes and personal grievances as an employment advocate. But I also have more than 40 years experience as a research scientist, teacher, senior public servant, counsellor, facilitator, consultant, mediator, and advocate. Most of that is very relevant.

I don’t have legal qualifications, but I do have an excellent working knowledge of Employment and Human Rights law.

I came to general employment advocacy work through an interest in bullying and harassment in workplaces. I negotiate and mediate well, and I listen and understand the feelings of the people involved very well. These skills give me a real edge in helping my clients negotiate satisfactory outcomes.

I can bite kneecaps if the situation calls for it, but I would much rather negotiate than fight. Litigation is always expensive, and the outcome can never be absolutely certain. It is almost always better to talk our way to a settlement based on the strength of the case and relative risks, the amounts likely to be awarded, and the “intangibles”.

“a real edge in helping my clients negotiate”

Often an “intangible” is best dealt with by talking through the possibilities, risks, and costs with the client. I have had clients who really wanted to punish the people who had treated them badly, and for some of them it was worth running some risk and escalating costs by going all the way to a hearing. For others in the same position, talking through their feelings with me has enabled them to drop their need to be “right” and to accept an offered settlement.

Sometimes, an “intangible” will involve a client who has been traumatised to the point where a long legal process is not a realistic option. In these cases, an important part of my job is to support them to get a small settlement quickly so that they can finish the matter and walk away with their self respect intact.

My thirty five years as a counsellor and my work in family violence has provided skills that make me much better than most lawyers in dealing with “intangibles”.