Join our growing community

Subscribe to InView to receive fortnightly newsletters access to exclusive content and invites to exciting events near you.

Memoir of a disconnected lawyer

LawVu's Chief Legal Evangelist knew something was up when his feet began to drag on the way to work. He couldn't put a finger on it, he loved environmental law and all it encompassed, yet almost overnight he'd become less organized, less effective. What had changed?

Shaun Plant was jubilant when he moved in-house at an organization with a highly specialized environmental law directorate. It was his dream come true. For the first few months it was complete and utter bliss, he sat among the scientists who informed his work and there was an ever-present buzz of conversation and stimulus.  

"I was surrounded by people who had really big brains, they were highly intelligent scientists. It felt right. Conversation was effortless and we worked well together. I was living the dream. It actually felt like that quite often. Life was a dream," he recalls.

Unfortunately, his blissful hideaway got noticed and he was moved to a building full of suits and briefcases where he joined the legal team.

"It was fine, business as usual, but not as efficient as how I'd been practicing because I had to make more of an effort to go and see people. There was a disconnect in that physical disconnection."

What started as a small stream of disconnection soon coalesced into a raging river with his previous workflows absorbed into the current.

Plant didn't notice this - not at first. A keen litigator, he immersed himself in fighting the good fight and achieving the best outcomes possible.

Sure, he had to walk over to the science department to chat to people, but the walk did him good, it helped him think. It was natural too that his inbox was overflowing and split between archiving systems and the printouts on his desk. It meant he was too busy to focus on the small stuff.

Reflecting on this time, Plant says, "They didn't have any systems, they were using disconnected bits of software that the wider organization was using. That's how we worked, information all over place. It wasn't structured in a great way, and I was getting squeezed at the end."

He continued in this manner for a few months, unknowingly walking deeper into the gaping chasm of disorder until an uncharacteristically shambolic showing during an important piece of litigation. Plant spouted what he describes as "complete gibberish" and was laughed out of court by the other party. The cracks were beginning to show.

"I remember this very well. I pushed back from my desk, my hands went to the side of my head, and I looked down at my feet and said, 'My bucket has overflowed. I've got work and it's just pooling at my feet.'"

What he previously thought what simply the frantic pace of litigation was instead the ugly face of disconnection. It had silently invaded and eviscerated his practice. He had to get out and quickly before the pressure and stress of disconnection crushed him.

So, he left.

"I wish I could end this story by telling you how I transformed that team to be a high-performing legal function. But I can't because I quit. Don't wait for your wheels to fall off like mine did."

Disconnection warped a career he loved into a prison he thought he'd never escape from.

Thankfully, Plant is much happier now. He's found a new mission, helping other legal departments by sharing his cautionary tale in the hopes they avoid the same fate.

"I'm now helping them to spend their days living the dream, and not the Freddy Krueger nightmare that mine became," he says.

Recommended Articles

In-house legal tips straight to your inbox