Morgan Evans graduated from Victoria University of Wellington in 2016 with a BA / LLB, majoring in political science and international relations. After a year overseas backpacking, he returned to New Zealand and started work in Buddle Findlay’s commercial litigation and insolvency team in early 2018.
When he's not working, you might catch him unionising. He's a member of the Aotearoa Legal Workers’ Union’s (ALWU) interim executive.
Why did you choose this area of law?
I think litigation has always appealed to me. I took the Myers Briggs personality test a few years back with a group of friends and was informed that my personality type is the debater – which is, in essence, Myers and Briggs’ way of telling you that you enjoy a robust discussion just a little too much. Litigation seemed like a good home for someone like that.
(I note that, having recently re-taken the test and received a less damning result, I am no longer classified as a Debater. Perhaps that is something else that drew me to litigation - a loss at first instance can always be appealed.)
If you were not working in law, what would be your alternative career be and why?
I was lucky enough to work as a policy advisor at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment while I studied, and found the work that I did in that space hugely rewarding. In particular, I loved the process of stepping back and thinking about how a sector or regulatory system was operating, why that was and what levers were available to be pulled to bring about better outcomes for the people involved.
What case or proceeding sticks most in your mind?
Roughly a quarter of my work is in the ACC space, and that is the work that sticks the most in my mind. As lawyers in that space, we are often dealing with people whose situations fall into the gaps between ACC and the public health system and that are, as a consequence, struggling without the support that they might have had if the legislation had been worded slightly differently. Even though I understand that Parliament had to draw the line somewhere, and our role as counsel for ACC is help it to clarify where that line has been drawn, the proceedings can be emotionally challenging.
What do you love about your job and why?
I love the conversations with colleagues and the learning that comes from them – just getting a few people in a room and trying to get to the bottom of an issue by bouncing ideas off of each other. Not only are those conversations enjoyable, but they always challenge you to think about things in different ways and from different perspectives.
Is there anything you dislike about your work and why?
Peoples’ reactions when I say that I am a lawyer can be hard to stomach. The mana of our profession has taken a big hit over the last couple of years as a consequence of some of the problematic aspects of its culture coming to the light, and I would like to feel more proud of telling people what it is that I do for a living.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing New Zealand lawyers?
Meaningful culture change. Post-Bazley Report, we are still working in a profession where a disproportionate number of our colleagues are struggling with mental health, being bullied, sexually harassed and / or paid less than the minimum wage. We are talking about those issues more now, and far more workplaces have appropriate policies and procedures to deal with them in place, but those things are only effective insofar as they are backed up by a genuine change in the culture of the profession.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a lawyer?
Maintaining balance. I’m yet to conquer it.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in relation to practising law?
My granddad always told us that “because you can do much, much should be expected of you.” That applies to lawyers more than most.
Lawyers are often described as workaholics. Is that you? How do you switch off?
See above! Getting outdoors is my off-switch, whether that involves mountain-biking, running or tramping. Something about the quiet of the bush puts things into perspective for me.
I also find that switching on to other things is hugely helpful. For example, working for ALWU is rewarding and engaging in a really different way than my usual work, and that provides some of that all-important balance I have previously referenced. We are actually in the process of seeking nominations for positions on our executive for the next year, so if you are interested in getting involved then please get in touch!
Where is the most exotic place you have been to for a holiday? Tell us about it.
When I was backpacking through Croatia, a hostel owner convinced me to travel with him to work on a new hostel he was building in the countryside. That night, I was bundled into a van and driven a few hours out of the city, where we pulled up to a building that was more shack than hostel and dossed down on a couch that he had to sweep the rodent faeces off of before I could throw my sleeping bag on to it. After four showerless days eating nothing but sausage meat, spring onion and stale buns and working 7am until late I certainly smelt exotic!