Fast cars and Barack Obama

by NZ Lawyer20 Jul 2016
Shane Johnstone, Special Counsel at MinterEllisonRuddWatts, reveals his passion for V8 supercars and why he’d invite himself for dinner.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I kind of ‘fell’ into law.My law degree (initially my dad’s idea, when he shot down my plan to race cars for a living) was always meant to be an add-on to my commerce degree, but as I progressed through my commerce papers I grew less and less interested in that area while my law papers became more and more interesting, and law ultimately became my chosen path.
How long have you worked at MinterEllisonRuddWatts and what brought you to this position?
After 23 years at Buddle Findlay I went in-house at the end of 2015 to be the Head of Legal – Corporate Trusts for Guardian Trust, but I missed the legal ‘coal face’ too much and when the opportunity came up to join the excellent Banking and Financial Services team at MinterEllisonRuddWatts I couldn’t pass it up. I’m in only my first couple of months with MinterEllisonRuddWatts.
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
My area of practice (corporate trust / funds management) doesn’t lend itself to overly strange cases, but in my very early days I had to make an urgent appearance at the Otahuhu District Court to seek an adjournment for a client charged with indecent exposure (he had been skinny dipping at an East Auckland beach).It was only my second time in court (including my admission ceremony) and I haven’t been back in a court room since.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
My teenage self – if only I knew then what I know now.
Barack Obama – I can’t imagine what a day in his life is like; and we think we have a lot on our plate.
Scott McLaughlin (V8 Supercars driver) – because he has the best job on the planet.
You’re based in Auckland – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
I’m no good on the places to get a drink, but my all-time favourite place for a special dinner is Cibo.A group of us go once a year for a friend’s birthday and we have never been disappointed – it is consistently excellent.
What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
Treat everyone you meet, regardless of who it is or in what circumstances, with respect, honesty and courtesy, and never take yourself too seriously.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I love most sports, but especially motor racing, basketball and cycling.A long term injury has curtailed my involvement in basketball and cycling, but my son plays basketball and my daughter rows so there is plenty to keep me occupied outside of work (although simply watching doesn’t help the waistline).
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
...doing something with an Aussie V8 Supercars team, preferably a race engineer.(I’d love to drive the car, but suspect I’m not as good at that particular skill as I think I am.)
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2016?
It’s an issue across a lot of jobs / professions not just the legal profession, but managing the boundary between work and home is a tricky task.There will always be urgent matters requiring immediate attention or longer hours, but we need to be careful that remains the exception and doesn’t become the norm.
If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
I’ll plead the Fifth Amendment on this question – discussing politics can be a dangerous thing.
What do you love about your job?
I work every day with people (clients, other lawyers, and people within the firm) whose abilities amaze me and who continually push me to be better.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
MinterEllisonRuddWatts is a premier firm and I am excited by the opportunity to work for them, so there is absolutely nothing I would change about my job.