Shibley Righton's Christopher Gaytan’s commercial litigation practice spans Canada, Mexico


Christopher Gaytan

Toronto commercial litigator Christopher Gaytan brings a personal touch to the practice of law.

Although the legal profession maintains a stuffy reputation in both his native Mexico and his adopted home of Canada, Gaytan, an associate with Shibley Righton LLP’s Toronto office, tells that he likes to dispense with formality as much as possible when meeting clients.

“I want them to feel comfortable and connect with them in a friendly and personal way,” he says, explaining that the approach benefits him professionally as well as personally.

“It makes for a deeper and more rewarding relationship all round,” Gaytan adds. “Lawyers are sometimes too formal, and it can make clients a bit nervous when it comes to talking about their business, which means they don’t want to tell you everything. I find that the personal connection gives me a better understanding of their legal needs.”

Gaytan says he felt destined for a legal career from an early stage, propelled by the recommendations of parents and high school teachers who identified the profession as a strong match for his academic skills.

“They thought I would be a good lawyer, and I took their advice and went for it,” he says.

Initially attracted to criminal law during his studies in Mexico, Gaytan articled with one of the country’s prosecution departments but discovered the area was not for him and switched to commercial litigation with a small law firm.

He explains that it is common practice for Mexican commercial lawyers seeking to broaden their horizons to pursue further legal studies abroad. Gaytan opted for Osgoode Hall Law School, attracted partly by the quality of its international business law master’s program, but also by warm feelings for Canada generated during family vacations.

But his plans changed in 2012 when he met his future wife in Toronto, and then excelled during an internship with Shibley Righton, where he was asked to stay on to work on a major litigation file involving South American investors allegedly defrauded in a $30-millon Canadian scheme.

Gaytan completed the accreditation process to qualify as an Ontario lawyer over the course of four years while working on the fraud case, finally articling with Shibley Righton, before his call to the bar in 2017.

He says the transition from Mexico’s civil law to Ontario’s common law regime has been challenging but rewarding, considering many of his Latin American clients need to have the differences explained to them.

“It’s been interesting to balance both systems and integrate them because my clients are generally based in civil law jurisdictions,” Gaytan says. “At their core, the legal and philosophical principles are basically the same, but the bigger adaptation comes in the new procedures and court systems you have to get used to.”

In addition to his commercial litigation trial and appeal work, Gaytan also operates a smaller professional liability practice, acting for lawyers involved in estate disputes.