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Solo Lawyer Spotlight


Michael Myers

Michael Myers
Managing Partner at Papazian | Heisey | Myers

Michael began working with Barry Papazian, Alan Heisey and Ben Forrest in 1992 and the four of them formed Papazian | Heisey | Meyers as founding partners in 2001. With over 40 years’ experience, Michael’s current practice focuses on mortgage and debt collections as well as contract enforcement.

He has also written extensively and spoken at seminars to explain the operation and effectiveness of the ‘transfer at undervalue’ provisions of section 96 of the federal Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Michael co-chairs the Law Society’s 6 Minute Debtor-Creditor and Insolvency Lawyer bi-annual seminars and he is a contributor to the mortgage enforcement and debt collection topics in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution module of Practical Guidance (formerly Lexis Practice Advisor).

At the start of the Covid-19 lock down, Michael has started blogging about mortgage enforcement challenges that private mortgage lenders will surely encounter. With 30 posts for far, this blog, which he has aptly named “THE NEW REALITY: PRIVATE MORTGAGE LENDERS’ RIGHTS AND REMEDIES” is a soup to nuts overview that contains many practice gems for sole practitioners and young lawyers alike.


 We asked Michael about his background, practice and the challenges that he faces.

"There are three main types of cases that interest me of late. The first is helping property owners/mortgagors who are being taken advantage of by their private mortgage lenders; who try to impose (and collect) improper fines and often ludicrous default penalties when enforcing their mortgages. The courts have consistently ruled that virtually all (if not all) of the default fees that these private mortgage lenders add to discharge statements are improper and simply unenforceable. I often represent the property owner/mortgagor to make sure that their rights are being upheld and respected.

I also take on files where I represent the lenders to ensure they are paid what they are owed and are contractually entitled to. This can be secured and unsecured institutional lenders, equipment lenders and even private mortgage lenders.

The third type of case that I have ongoing at this time is quite specialized. It involves section 96 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act of Canada, which prohibits certain gifts and undervalued conveyances by bankrupts up to 5 years before filing or being petitioned into bankruptcy. Section 96 is a powerful tool that I have used successfully to obtain very large recoveries for bankrupt estates from the recipients of these transfers at undervalue/fraudulent conveyances!"

"My approach has always been simple. I answer my phone personally during working hours and return calls promptly if I miss any. When I started practicing law 40-some years ago, lawyers weren’t allowed to advertise legal services because law was treated as a profession, rather than a business. That’s changed in Ontario since 1987, when advertising became legal for lawyers, but answering calls and being available for my clients has remained the backbone of client-oriented service. I always try to keep in mind that one of the biggest complaints you’ll hear from clients is that they can’t reach their lawyers when they need them. Answering the phone personally is perhaps the first and easiest step I can take to let my clients know that I am here for them and eager to assist them.

I also strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance; starting my days early and getting home for dinner at dinnertime. I turn my cell phone off at home and do not check emails after I leave work. Night-time ‘emergencies’ in my area of law can always wait until the next morning!"

"Over a 40+ year practice I’ve seen the economy boom and bust three or four times already. In 1989 the real estate market in Ontario crashed and lost significant value. Then we had the dot-com crash in the early 2000’s, and again the financial crisis recession in 2008 really shook things up. With the COVID-19 pandemic it’s different, because it involves human lives. However, from a purely legal point of view, it is very similar to the past recessions with high unemployment and home-owners having difficulty keeping their mortgage and debt payments up to date.

As a lawyer, one must be prepared to change the focus of her or his practice and be responsive to what’s happening in the economy. In the 80’s I was doing commercial mortgage lending for financial institutions on a team of 20+ lawyers, which was a very large team at the time. In the Spring of 1989 commercial mortgage lending ground to an overnight halt and new mortgage commitments stopped being issued. Many firms specializing in mortgage lending closed. I eventually left the lending firm that I had been with for 6 years and in 1992 I moved to a predecessor of my current firm. As there were virtually no new mortgages being funded at that time, I started providing flat fee file reviews for my institutional lender clients; making certain that their mortgage had the correct priority, that the borrower’s title was good and that the legal file was properly documented. This was a new service for lawyers – and employed a new billing model (flat fee versus docketed time). To my knowledge, no one was doing this kind of work at that time. The key is to identify how your clients’ needs have shifted in a post-recession world and adapt with them. Lawyers will always be retained if they can provide a service which is of value to the client. Our challenge is to find out what the client really needs and how we can make ourselves invaluable to the client by meeting the clients’ needs."

"I provide legal services for complex problem files that require specialized knowledge. My services are very different from what the majority of the new bankruptcy cases will require, most of those will go to high-volume firms that provide services for standard cases.

My goal is always to provide excellent service. I believe that good lawyers will rise to the surface. If you are meeting your clients’ needs, they will acknowledge and appreciate your services."

"The biggest problem I see with young lawyers who are desperate to grow their business and start working outside of their usual practice area is that they often wander into a new specialized area of practice without the depth of knowledge required to do so efficiently or effectively. You need to know what you know, and really know what you don’t.

My best advice for newer lawyers is to find a mentor. I unofficially mentor two lawyers right now. One of these lawyers worked for me for years before and after law school and before she started her own practice, the other has a lot of real estate clients but limited mortgage default and mortgage remedy experience. Both lawyers use me for mentorship, advice, and often hire me on retainer to consult on their cases. This allows them to provide better service to their clients than they would otherwise be able to do on their own."

"Personally, I’m looking forward to settling into a new normal. I believe that many of us have used 2020 to regroup, take stock and to re-prioritize what is really important in life. Family, friends, work and rest and relaxation. Covid-19 has redefined what ‘normal’ looks like for all of us this year. I think we all have to remember and focus on what’s really important.

Professionally, I’ve heard from financial clients that they expect to be busy in 2021 with bad loans, so I anticipate a lot of work in my mortgage remedy and debt collection practice areas next year. It isn’t the type of work that is good for society or that you can necessarily get excited about though. But bad loans need to be dealt with in a respectful and gentle manner. I’m anticipating a lot of upheaval and change in the real estate market in Ontario. Lawyers always need to be flexible and when necessary, reinvent themselves and find novel ways to provide services to our clients in this new environment."

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