Law Society Rule 2-69.1 provides for the publication of summaries of credentials hearing panel decisions on applications for enrolment in articles, call and admission and reinstatement.
For the full text of hearing panel decisions, visit the Hearing reports section of the Law Society website.
Michael Grant Gayman
Called to the bar: May 12, 1980
Ceased membership: January 1, 1996
Disbarred: May 6, 1999
Hearing (application for reinstatement): December 16, 2011
Panel: David Mossop, QC, Chair, Paula Cayley and James Dorsey, QC
Report issued: April 24, 2012 (2012 LSBC 12)
Counsel: Henry C. Wood, QC for the Law Society and Richard Lindsay, QC and Colleen O’Neill (articled student) for Michael Grant Gayman
Michael Grant Gayman was disbarred by a hearing panel in May 1999 for conduct unbecoming a lawyer. While acting as a trustee, Gayman knowingly breached a trust agreement resulting in a loss of approximately $1 million dollars to 20 investors.
Gayman testified that, at the time of the breach, he was a heavy drinker. After he ceased to practise law, he attempted various other jobs; however, his drinking continued. His second marriage also ended due to his alcoholism.
Gayman reached a turning point in his life in April 2003 when he entered a Salvation Army detox program. He gave up drinking alcohol and also became a Salvation Army employee. Moving up the corporate ladder in this organization, he held various managerial positions. In July 2010, he accepted the newly created role as director of labour relations and was responsible for 180 people.
Gayman intentionally disconnected from other lawyers when he was disbarred. However, in 2006 he decided he wanted to “give back” and contacted the Lawyers Assistance Program, which assists people who are dealing with substance abuse. He was later appointed as a director on two related boards.
In the panel’s view, the two major concerns in considering this application for reinstatement were Gayman’s breach of trust and his alcohol dependency.
An expert medical report stated that procrastination and poor judgment go hand in hand with alcoholism. The panel believed alcoholism may have played a significant part in Gayman’s breach of trust, cover-up and his failure to respond to the Law Society and the investors.
It has been over 10 years since Gayman was disbarred from the practice of law. He had a serious alcohol dependency and has dealt with it effectively for nine years. The panel determined that a sufficient period of time had elapsed to demonstrate change and character and fitness to practise law.
Although Gayman’s breach and cover-up were serious, the panel believed that these mistakes were isolated and not part of a pattern of professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming. His conduct record was generally clean and the panel felt that it was highly unlikely that he would misconduct himself again.
Gayman worked for the Salvation Army for over eight years with a great deal of managerial responsibility. He also provided letters from senior lawyers attesting to his good character.
The confidence of the public in the legal profession was an important consideration for the panel. In the panel’s view, the public would not have confidence in the legal profession if Gayman was not given a second chance.
The panel found that Gayman was a person of good character and repute and was fit to be a lawyer. His application for reinstatement is subject to strict conditions that he:
- comply with all of the recommendations made in his 2008 medical report;
- continue to consult with one designated physician on a regular basis;
- regularly attend a mutual support group and maintain contact with an AA sponsor;
- ensure monitoring reports are submitted to the Law Society annually or immediately if there is any concern of substance abuse;
- not operate a trust account or be a signatory upon one;
- practise law only in a setting approved by the Law Society and report any significant change in his employment situation; and
- have a workplace supervision agreement with a co-worker of equal or higher status.
As Gayman has not practised law for almost 17 years, he will have to satisfy the requirements set out in Rules 2-55 to 2-59 before he is formally admitted into the practice of law.
It was of some significance that Gayman had no specific plans to practise law. The panel decided that a decision on the issue of reinstating Gayman as a non-practising member was not necessary. The conditions addressed the concerns of the panel.
The panel emphasized that alcoholism is no defence to a disciplinary matter nor an excuse on a readmission application. This was an exceptional case and should not be used by disbarred lawyers to gain reinstatement.
On May 22, 2012 the Credentials Committee agreed to refer the matter to the Benchers for a review of the decision, under section 47 of the Legal Profession Act.