BATON ROUGE – A former Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer who was disbarred seven years ago has been reinstated.
E. Eric Guirard was allowed to resume practicing law in the state by the Louisiana Supreme Court on Apr. 22.
“Upon review of the recommendation of the hearing committee and disciplinary board, and considering the record, it is ordered that E. Eric Guirard, also known as Eric J. Guirard, Louisiana Bar Roll number 18242, be immediately readmitted to the practice of law in Louisiana, subject to a two-year period of supervised probation,” the Court wrote in its decision.
In May 2009, Guirard and his then-partner, Thomas R. Pittenger, were disbarred for engaging in conflicts of interest, allowing non-attorneys on their staff to practice law, and for paying improper fees and incentives to staff for client referrals.
Guirard and Pittenger eventually sold their law firm, E. Eric Guirard and Associates, to the personal injury law firm of Dudley, DeBosier and Peltier.
“It is remarkable that the Louisiana Supreme Court reinstated a disbarred attorney that it had previously found guilty of engaging in a ‘pattern of misconduct’ involving numerous conflicts of interest and impermissible fee sharing arrangements,” Melissa Landry, executive director for the Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, told the Louisiana Record.
Pittenger was reinstated last March and is also subject to 2 years of supervised probation.
Guirard, whose advertisements on billboards, radio and television promised clients the “E Guarantee,” filed an application for readmission with the disciplinary board in 2014, stating he had complied with the readmission criteria set by the high court.
“In its previous ruling, the high court made clear that Guirard and his former law partner who was also disbarred and reinstated, ‘harmed their clients’ while the Office of Disciplinary Council found they ‘consciously and intentionally’ violated ethics rules. The penalty for such egregious practices is just seven years of disbarment?” Landry said.
According to court documents, a hearing committee recommended Guirard’s readmission, subject to 3years of supervised probation. But the Office of Disciplinary Counsel objected to the recommendation, and a disciplinary board recommended the denial of Guirard’s application.
“This slap on the wrist for such serious violations of the law sends the wrong message to citizens that the legal system is rigged to protect lawyers, not their clients,” Landry said.