Personal Lives

Downfall: Why Did Bruce Hyman Do It?

A British lawyer who seemingly had it all, Bruce Hyman was also a wonderful guy. So friends were stunned when he became the first barrister in the bar’s 800-year history jailed for professional misconduct.

A wealthy well-known radio and television producer from a professional family, Hyman, now 49, came to the law late. Married with children, he was expected by his successful friends—and, presumably, himself as well—to be a legal profession standout, too. A single e-mail, sent Sept. 22, 2006 from a London store, ended that dream, recounts the Daily Mail.

Seemingly from a fathers’ rights group, it reported a court case that happened to support recipient Simon Eades’ position in his own pending divorce. So Eades presented the case at a court hearing.

“The moment he did so, Hyman—who was of course acting for the man’s ex-wife—promptly stood up and suggested not only that the document was a forgery, but that Mr Eades, who was representing himself, might have been responsible,” the Daily Mail writes.

Says Eades, a former Wall Street banker: “To be accused of a serious crime was horrendous. I was frantic, panic-stricken, not to mention angry.”

Eventually, Hyman—who was videotaped sending the e-mail—was found to have written the forged portions. He resigned from the bar, pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice, and was given a one-year prison sentence.

Why on earth did he do it?

“He is the only person who can answer that question,” the newspaper says. “But what the Mail has learned is that he had been struggling to cope with the stress of his hugely demanding new career, and had turned to alcohol and cocaine to escape from the depression that was threatening to engulf him.” Continuing to work as a producer, while simultaneously starting a new midlife career as a practicing lawyer, perhaps was just too much to take on, the newspaper speculates. Although Hyman completed two six-month “pupillages” with United Kingdom law firms, neither led to permanent employment.

His divorce client, a longtime friend, remains grateful for his support and legal help before his “act of insanity.” Yet, she notes, “I have not heard a word from him since that day. His lawyer made a public apology in court last month, but he has never said sorry to me in person.”

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