On Thursday, June 13, 2024, the Supreme Court of Kentucky publicly reprimanded attorney Michael Gary Byers for violating ethics rules related to business dealings with a client.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Michael Gary Byers,” with case no. 2024-SC-0179-KB.

The Court order detailed misconduct that occurred from 2019 to 2021 while representing Lisa Mead and her company during the dissolution of a failed business partnership. Byers failed to have a written fee agreement and deposited an unearned $5,000 payment in his personal account instead of an escrow account. He also acquired a 40% ownership interest in a new cigar bar business started by Mead without properly advising her to seek independent legal counsel.

When the business relationship soured, litigation ensued between the parties in 2020. Byers was later charged by the bar association with failing to properly communicate the representation’s scope and basis for fees, not using written advance fee agreements, neglecting to advise the client to consult outside counsel regarding the business venture, and not refunding an unearned $392.50 fee payment.

Byers admitted to the charges, except one alleging a failure to outline the representation’s scope, which was dismissed. In its ruling, the Court reviewed past disciplinary cases where lawyers entered financial transactions without the proper consent tools in place. It settled on a negotiated sanction between Byers and the bar association of a public reprimand.

As part of the punishment, Byers must attend remedial ethics and trust account management programs at his own expense, He is banned from seeking continuing legal education credits for the remedial classes and must sign over documents for oversight. Byers also has one month to pay the $392.50 in restitution and cover $92.78 in investigation costs. Failure to adhere to the discipline could result in more serious sanctions from the high court in the future.

The Disposition states:

“ACCORDINGLY, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT: 1. Michael Garyv Byers is found guilty of violating SCR 3.130(1.5)(0, SCR 3.130(1.8)(a), SCR 3.130(1.15)(e), and SCR and is hereby publicly reprimanded for his unprofessional conduct.”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Byers is a general practice attorney in Paducah, Kentucky. He attended the University of Memphis – Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. He acquired his law license in Kentucky in 2007.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.