Call it the Return of E.
Once the five-year mark is up on E. Eric Guirard’s disbarment, the former personal injury attorney is intent on petitioning the Louisiana Supreme Court for reinstatement to the practice of law. That won’t be possible until May 2014.
Until then, he is planning his reentry into the public consciousness through an anti-aging clinic, a foundation, a rap album touting Tea Party politics, and shoe sales.
It’s a long way from the multimillion-dollar legal empire that he and partner Tommy Pittenger built, with 18 lawyers, 50 paraprofessionals, 30,000 clients and a $1.2 million Italian Renaissance-style headquarters on a downtown hill.
With his ubiquitous television advertisements touting the “E Guarantee,” Guirard became a household name whether you liked him or not.
But all of that came to a halt in May 2009, when he and his then-partner were disbarred. The Louisiana Supreme Court decided they had violated the rules of professional conduct by paying commissions to employees who were not lawyers and by allowing case managers who were not attorneys to provide legal advice to clients.
“After they kicked me out of the club, my first instinct was to start looking at some other business opportunities to see what else I could possibly do that might utilize my different talents and interests,” Guirard says.
“Unfortunately, with disbarment, not only do they take away your career and your reputation and your livelihood and your ability to feed your children and your multimillion dollar business and all that; there are very strict rules in regards to what you can do—even tangentially do—related to the practice of law. So you’re very restricted. You can’t do anything that you’ve been trained for in the past three decades.”
Guirard had always been a businessman first, so he started looking for other opportunities to make money.
First, he put a year’s worth of effort into opening E. Eric Guirard’s Eternal Health Anti-Aging Center, replete with hormone replacement therapy, intravenous vitamin treatments, detoxification regimens and hyperbaric chambers.
For reasons he did not discuss, the center just didn’t work out.
“I saw a market need for that sort of thing here in town, and it still may happen, but just because of some different setbacks, it has been put on the shelf for now,” he says. “But I do think that’s a thriving business opportunity that I intend to get involved with in the future perhaps.”
A bad case of plantar fasciitis brought Guirard his latest business opportunity: selling shoes. During a desperate Internet search for relief, he discovered a product called Z-Coil: an orthotic shoe with a freestanding heel attached to a spring coil. He’s back to running and playing basketball, pain-free.
Guirard says he’s “on the verge of getting involved” with the chiropractor who owns the franchise in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and marketing the footwear as E. Eric Guirard E-Spring Shoes.
“I saw a big opportunity there, because marketing certainly is one of the good things that I can do, and I was very successful with that in the law field,” Guirard says. “So I said, ‘I’m going to transfer my marketing efforts to the Z-Coil product. Got to keep that E on.”
The truck is back.
The 12-foot box truck formerly known as the “Clean E Team” is now in use again, this time as a billboard for the E. Eric Guirard Foundation, complete with a gigantic letter E and Guirard’s face. There’s a website, too, though it has little more than a donate button and a guest book.
Guirard has formed his own 501[c] organization to tackle some pretty heady issues: race relations, obesity, crime and litter.
“The truck wasn’t being used, so I thought it would be a great way to do a teaser for the foundation, to let people know it was coming,” he says. “I thought the best way to do that was to put that E up there and my big old face just to get people started talking. That’s always the first step in these kinds of things. When people start talking about, ‘What is E up to now?’ from there I’ll be able to jettison into some projects that I think can incorporate the entire city and the community.”
Guirard is a one-man foundation staff, helped out by friends, volunteers and Otey White & Associates. The organization, he says, is still very much in its formative stage—”in the crib,” as he puts it.
But the goal is to make a splash with a race relations project this summer. He says he’s in preliminary talks with the mayor’s office and wants to involve a citywide church organization, too.
“I’m not at liberty to tell you the name of it yet,” he says. “But it’s a pro-ject that is going to capture the imagi-nation of the city and the enthusiasm of the people. It’s going to start this summer, and we’ll have it in full force by football season.”
His own rap album
This 52-year-old conservative white disbarred lawyer is also a rapper, most likely the only one of his demographic in the marketplace. “I am gonna dominate that segment,” he says.
He’s about to release his first CD on his own label, a collection curiously entitled The Tea Party Anthem.
Guirard isn’t new to the musical genre. In 1981, while still a senior at LSU, he wrote Tigers to the Top, the theme song for the men’s basketball team that advanced to the Final Four in Philadelphia and finished 31-5.
The Tea Party Anthem, full of what the self-described “conservatarian” terms “clean, political, conservative rap,” finished recording in April and will be for Internet sale sometime in May. Tracks include Dehyphenate, about race relations; War, which argues that battle is sometimes justified; Gimme Five, about his own political governmental philosophy; Gotta Be An American, about immigration; and The Pledge of Allegiance, a song he wrote after 9/11.
“I was Tea Party before Tea Party was cool,” says Guirard, who ran for lieutenant governor in 1995 on the “Hire Me to Fire Me” platform urging the end of that particular political office. He might have another go at politics.
“Why not?” he says. “Victim of government injustice—I’m like the poster boy.”
Still making money
Despite not having a steady business, Guirard is neither down nor out.
He’s still able to collect interest on any of the 3,000 cases that were under way at the firm when he was still allowed to practice law.
He and Pittenger still collect rent on the Italian Renaissance-style headquarters that now houses Dudley DeBosier, which advertises itself with the letter D—for “Demand Dudley DeBosier”—and promises, not the E Guarantee, but a No Fee Guarantee.
He still drives that Jag with the “E” license plate.
And his two children—Eason Eric and Eden Eric [both E. Eric]—attend Episcopal High School, he says, primarily because it was the only school in the city that he could find that starts with the letter E. Tuition for their age level is $11,200 per child.
It isn’t the practice of law that Guirard misses, given that he wasn’t actually handling cases at the time of his disbarment. But he misses the business and the marketing.
Once his five-year punishment is up, he can apply for reinstatement, a request the Supreme Court must consider. He’s confident he has as good a chance as anyone of getting back in.
If he is successful, he says, he might consider combining his own practice with that of Dudley DeBosier, or possibly restart E. Eric Guirard Injury Lawyers. Whatever he decides to do, it will certainly incorporate the E brand.
Says Guirard: “I’m hopeful that the court will see that perhaps they were a little too draconian with my sentence, and that I really deserve to be back in.”