Helped In His Past, Raynham Resident Ernst Guerrier Now Making A Difference To Others

12/17/2002

By Tony Ferullo

Upon learning he was voted the premier black real estate attorney in Boston in a recent issue of Boston Magazine, a nationally known publication, Ernst Guerrier became emotional.

"I got down and started crying," said the 34-year-old Raynham resident. "My first phone call was to Suffolk University President David Sargent. I had to tell him that he wasn't wrong when he recommended me to Suffolk University Law School years ago."

In 1997, Guerrier left a major Boston law firm to establish his own law practice. He is the principal of Guerrier and Associates, P.C. in Dorchester, a firm specializing in estate planning, residential conveyance and complex domestic relations matters. He also gives frequent public lectures to first time homebuyers and teaches the art of client relations to other attorneys.

Born in Port-Au Prince, Haiti, Guerrier moved to Mattapan with his family when he was seven years old. His father still works as a Boston cab driver, while his mother is a housekeeper at the Fernald School in Waltham. An honor roll student and 1987 graduate of Boston English High School, Guerrier always stressed the importance of receiving a good education to his three younger sisters and one brother.

While at Suffolk, Guerrier was president of the Black Student Union, vice president of the Student Council Association and a member of the men's soccer team. He also had perfect attendance in class and was a work study student in the Sawyer library all four years. Because times were tough, he looked for ways to save money. For example, he got away from buying books by utilizing the library copy of each of his various course publications.

"I did whatever I had to do to get the job done," said Guerrier, who received his undergraduate degree in political science from Suffolk in 1991. "Working and studying in the library gave me the discipline I needed and an opportunity to develop my mind as best as I could."

After graduation, Guerrier decided to attend Suffolk University Law School. President Sargent approved his acceptance because he saw an honest individual eager to learn. "What impressed me the most about Ernst was his passion for becoming a lawyer," said Sargent. "I sincerely believed that he had the drive and diligence to succeed in his chosen profession."

However, before he even took his first class, Guerrier was put in touch with Richard Trifiro, a fellow Boston English High School grad who would change the course of this aspiring young law student forever.

Trifiro, a self-made millionaire who passed away three years ago, graduated from Suffolk University Law School in 1957 and received an honorary degree from his alma mater 30 years later. He was a prominent businessman and entrepreneur. In 1983, he established an Alumni Scholarship Award and contributed to the college education of more than 250 high school students, mostly minorities.

Guerrier, a 1994 graduate of Suffolk University Law School, was one of those students impacted by Trifiro's generosity. Trifiro liked Guerrier's determination, sincerity and old-fashioned values and rewarded him by paying for his entire law school education. He also purchased his books and bought him his winter coats. At Thanksgiving, Trifiro would invite Guerrier, and other young people living a dream, to join his own family in Natick for a festive celebration. He also welcomed everyone to his vacation home on Cape Cod during the summer months

"He treated us like we were his own children," said Guerrier. "He helped people from all walks of life - African-Americans, Asians, Puerto Ricans. He opened our eyes to a new way of life. He was someone who was too good to be true."

In return for his genuine act of kindness and goodwill, Trifiro encouraged Guerrier and the other students to follow what he preached. "He would says things like, 'to whom much is given, a great deal more is expected,' and 'what I do for you today, you do onto others,'" said Guerrier.

The student followed his mentor's advice. Last year, when two Suffolk students couldn't afford to make an educational visit to the school's campus in Dakar, Senegal in West Africa, Guerrier paid for their trip. He also treats his clients as if they were members of his own family (which includes his wife, Marieflore, daughter, Christa, and son, Myles). He gives out his home and cell phone numbers and accepts calls at any time of the day and night.

"I help people to save their homes," said Guerrier, who is in the process of
writing a first time homebuyers book. "That means everything to me. I firmly believe in community-based lawyering. My clients know they will get the very best out of me despite their financial situation. Making money has never been the key factor for me."

He sits on the board of directors of the Haitian Public Health Initiative in Mattapan, an agency assisting people suffering from the HIV/AIDS disease. He believes in giving back to the community where he grew up in any way he can. To relax, he enjoys reading about people who, he says, "have overcome obstacles in their lives."

When it comes to Suffolk University, Guerrier bleeds blue and gold. In fact, he is having a full-length basketball court built in his backyard, complete with a caricature of the Suffolk Ram, the school's mascot, displayed at halfcourt. If that's not loyal enough, out of the nine people who work for him, all three lawyers are Suffolk Law graduates, and each summer his firm hires two Suffolk Law students as interns.

"One of the things I like about Ernst is his willingness to empower people and develop their skills," said Robert Bellinger, assistant professor of history at Suffolk University, who had Guerrier as a student. "He has great leadership qualities and the ability to focus on the issues at hand."

Although he may presently have the spotlight shining on him, Guerrier refuses to bask in the glory. He is not the type to continuously bow at center stage for everyone to see. Memories of his past have the power to keep his mind from swelling and secure his feet on the ground.

"I remember where I came from and what it's like for people to help me," said Ernst Guerrier. "Now, it's my turn to help others become successful."

For more information, please contact:
Tony Ferullo at 617-573-8448

Back to News »