How Michael Bryant ended up on this issue’s cover // Editor’s Note

After the car accident that bobtailed his political career, the former attorney general went quiet

By Melissa Kluger

On Monday December 5th, 2016


When I look back on it now, I find myself thinking, Did that really happen? It sounds like a far-fetched plot line from The Good Wife or Scandal.

On a summer evening back in 2009, Michael Bryant got in a car accident that left a cyclist dead. The police soon charged Bryant — the former attorney general of Ontario, who political insiders expected would make a run for premier — with dangerous driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death. And with that, the legal world was enthralled: this was a scandal.

Precedent got caught up in the spectacle, too. On our website, we kept a running list of Bryant-related press coverage. We even created an online poll that asked readers to guess which criminal lawyer the former AG would hire. (In case you’re curious, these were the contenders: Marlys Edwardh, Brian Greenspan, Eddie Greenspan, Marie Henein and Clayton Ruby.) The results of the poll are no longer in our archives, but, in any event, the voting didn’t last long. The day after we posted the poll, Bryant hired Henein. Eight months later, the charges were dropped.

I can think of no lawyer who has had his life laid bare the way Michael Bryant has. Thanks to years of in-depth media coverage of Bryant’s life, we can all recite his basic resumé: he clerked at the Supreme Court and ascended the political ranks with astonishing speed. We also know, from the memoir he put out in 2012, his most personal struggles, like his battle with alcoholism and the collapse of his marriage.

After his book came out, though, Bryant went quiet. The showboating politician all but disappeared. Bryant was just 43 at the time of the accident. That’s when most lawyers are hitting their stride. How would he spend the rest of his career?

At the beginning of this year, I stumbled across a clue. Criminal lawyer Sean Robichaud mentioned to me that Bryant had joined his chambers, and a tiny light popped up on the dormant Michael Bryant radar. With no fanfare, Bryant had set up a solo practice. The work I heard he was doing intrigued me. I knew our readers would be interested, too, so I was ready to assign the story. Bryant, on the other hand, wasn’t ready to share it.

Precedent first reached out to him in January, then again in February, but we didn’t hear back until April. It was only with the persistence of Precedent’s senior editor, Daniel Fish, and the help of Robichaud that we persuaded a reluctant Bryant to let us update his story and put him back on your radar. I think you’ll be glad we did.

I won’t spoil the story (“Whatever happened to Michael Bryant?”), but will say I’m incredibly proud of it. I also want to say thank you to Michael Bryant. For trusting us to tell his story. And for making it such a damn good one.




Melissa Kluger
Publisher & Editor


Call for nominations

We spend a lot of this issue telling the story of a former attorney general, but Precedent is always looking to discover new lawyers who also deserve their time in the spotlight. In fact, that’s the whole idea behind our annual Precedent Setter Awards. And the search is on. We’re now accepting nominations for Toronto-based lawyers in their first 10 years of practice who excel at work and in the community. If any brilliant lawyers just popped into your head, let us know! They just might end up on the cover.

Visit our Precedent Setter Awards page for more information. Nominations close January 27, 2017. Winners will be featured in our 2017 summer issue.


More from the Winter Issue:







Photo of Michael Bryant by Chloë Ellingson