Arthur Laplante would estimate he’s “usually flying three weeks out of the month” on average. Although the Hinshaw & Culbertson partner is prone to describing his work-related travel in as straightforward a manner as possible, the number of places he’s visited and the amount of time spent away from home could sound dizzying to the uninitiated. The week of Jan. 7 alone will see him trek to Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday and return to his home base of Fort Lauderdale to catch a Wednesday flight to Boston, and ultimately conclude his workweek with a deposition scheduled for Friday.
And he won’t be waiting long to hit the road again.
“I’m picking a jury on Jan. 15 over in Fort Myers and then going to be trying the case for two weeks starting the 29th,” he told the DBR. “While I’m trying that case there, I’ll be staying at a hotel and setting up a war room.” Laplante explained its common practice for him and Hinshaw & Culbertson’s myriad legal teams to set up command posts in temporary quarters while they’re trying cases.
“Ultimately, that’s the way it goes,” he said.
If Laplante’s 30-plus years with the firm, extensive resume and considerable travel miles are any indication, he appears to work best while busy and on the move. Continuous travel has proven to be a recurring theme in the life story of the defense lawyer born in Central Massachusetts.
The results of a career aptitude test pointed Laplante to a career in accounting. Even though the test’s findings left him feeling dejected, he dutifully headed to his school library to brush up on the details of his future in number crunching.
“I ended up going to the library and on the shelf they had all these books ‘So You Want to Be An Accountant?,’ so you want to be this, so you want to be that,” he recounted. “I pulled a number of books but the one I actually ended up doing more than flip through was ‘So You Want to Be a Lawyer?’ I had no lawyers in the family and didn’t know any lawyers, so I looked at that and I said, ‘That sounds pretty good to me.’”
Now imbued with a sense of direction, Laplante remained in his home state for his higher education. After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1979, he enrolled in the school now known as New England Law Boston.
He carved out time for travel.
“Between college and law school I took a year off,” he said. “During that year I worked as a teacher at a school in Connecticut to make some money. Then having made the money, I went backpacking through Europe in the British Isles and on the Eurail Pass [train service.] Talk about carefree — it was a high point.”
4 A.M. Job
Once he returned to Massachusetts to pursue his J.D., Laplante juggled the load of law school with extracurricular activities and a job, which was as demanding on his body as it was his sleep schedule.
“While I was going to law school — especially the second and third years — I was working at UPS,” Laplante said. “And I was working the shift from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. I worked the chute where the boxes slide down and you have to throw them. So I was doing that, going to law school and made Law Review. As you would expect, I was a little worn out. I had a hard time saying my first name.”
After graduating from law school in 1983 Laplante worked at Miami law firm Daniels & Hicks for about a year before joining Thornton Herndon & Mastrucci. Not long after that, in 1987, Thornton Herndon & Mastrucci merged with Hinshaw & Culbertson. Laplante soon found himself tasked with opening an office in Fort Lauderdale with the newfound title of partner.
Now, his resume is replete with a corporate clients across an assortment of sectors. Among them: telecommunications company AT&T, for whom he served as regional counsel for the Southeast, and offshore drilling contractor Transocean, who he represented in multidistrict litigation resulting from the Deepwater Horizon incident.
“When I first started we were all generalists,” Laplante said. “I would get all sorts of different cases and so I had to learn products liability, wrongful death, negligence, security and all these different things.” Luckily for him — and his clients — Laplante has relished the opportunity to expand his skill set.
“There’s a lot of truth to the statement ‘The devil’s in the details,’” he said. “One of the things I love about being a lawyer is that in providing defense to someone, I have to know their business as well as they do. And as the world and the practice [of law] became specialized, I had all this exposure and I had all this experience of many different things.”
The attorney attributes the longevity to his career, as well as the breadth of his travels and clientele, to his diligence and earnestness.
“I speak to jurors so that I can develop a relationship,” Laplante said. “When it comes time to ask them to go ahead and reach a verdict, they trust I’m credible and believable in what I ask them to do. I suppose that’s it: People like me and they believe what I say.”
Arthur J. Laplante
Born: 1957, Webster, Massachusetts
Spouse: Marita Laplante
Children: Elise Laplante, Ryan Laplante and Thomas Laplante
Education: New England School of Law, J.D., 1983; University of Massachusetts, B.A., 1979
Experience: Partner, Hinshaw & Culbertson, 1987-present; Associate, Thornton Herndon & Mastrucci, 1985; Associate, Daniels & Hicks, 1983