Agenda Item
Docket No. 24-161
Advisory opinion request submitted on behalf of Governor John Bel Edwards concerning the law firm of Fishman Haygood, LLP entering into a subcontract and contracts that involve the State of Louisiana.
John Bel Edwards's service as Governor for the State of Louisiana ended on January 8, 2024. Governor Edwards entered into a contract with Fishman Haygood as a "non-exclusive independent contractor with a ‘Special Counsel' designation." Governor Edwards will have no ownership interest in Fishman Haygood. The proposed contract provides that Fishman Haygood cannot terminate Governor Edwards's services "at will," and that Governor Edwards will:

  • be free from control and supervision of the law firm as to the means and methods of performing his work;
  • not be obligated to work in a particular place, a set number of hours, or be required to log a set number of billable hours;
  • not be prohibited from providing services to other clients or law firms that otherwise do not present attorney/client conflicts of interest for Fishman Haygood;
  • decide which assignments he will accept;
  • maintain his own office space, but may use the firm's offices in New Orleans and Baton Rouge;
  • be responsible for his expenses, but may be reimbursed by clients for those expenses;
  • not be eligible to participate in the law firm's group health, life, and disability plans, 401(k), profit sharing, retirement plans, or other benefits provided by the law firm; and,
  • receive a 1099 tax form; and, work for a fixed term.

The contract specifically provides that Fishman Haygood will bar Governor Edwards from participating "in working on matters involving clients or cases involving the executive branch of the State of Louisiana," and "[a]ny fees paid to [Fishman Haygood] arising from its work on matters involving the executive branch of the State of Louisiana will be segregated into a separate account by Fishman Haygood] and will not be use to make any payments to [Governor] Edwards."
On the Board's regular general agenda this month, the Board is considering a draft of an advisory opinion in BD 2023-1076 regarding the contract between Fishman Haygood and former Governor Edwards. When analyzing this request, staff relied on the draft of that opinion, including the conclusion therein that Governor Edwards is not an employee of Fishman Haygood for purposes of the application of La. R.S. 42:1121C.
La. R.S. 42:1121A(1) provides that "[n]o former ... elected official shall, for a period of two years following the termination of his public service... as an elected public official serving in such agency, assist another person, for compensation, in a transaction, or in an appearance in connection with a transaction, involving that agency or render any service on a contractual basis to or for such agency."

La. R.S. 42:1121D provides that "[n]o former public servant shall share in any compensation received by another person for assistance which such former public servant is prohibited from rendering by this Section."

La. R.S. 42:1121C provides that "[n]o legal entity in which a former public servant is an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee shall, for a period of two years following the termination of his public service, assist another person, for compensation, in a transaction, or in an appearance in connection with a transaction in which such public servant at any time participated during his public service and involving the agency by which he was formerly employed or in which he formerly held office."

La. 42:1113D(3) prohibits the former Governor, his spouse, or any legal entity in which he or his spouse owns an interest in excess of 5%, from entering into a contract with the State of Louisiana for one year after the Governor's term of office ends.

Adopt draft of advisory opinion.
Assigned Attorney: Kathleen Allen
2024-03-01 Ciolino Supplemental Info re BOE
2024-161- HGA contract with OCD for agenda
2023-1076- Email D Ciolino 022824 Attach - 2024-02-05 Non-Exclusive Independent Contractor Agreement bw John Bel Edwards and FH (2)
2024-161 - Advisory Opinion Draft - Edwards