Written by Joe O’Donnell
Eric Welch Guster is part of the national conversation now. You know the one. The screen is split into slices of talking heads, like a high-tech vivisection of commentary and passion played out for the whole nation on cable TV.
Guster relishes the role. Issues of race and social justice and over-policing. All are fodder for Guster. “I give my personal experiences as well,” he says. He wants to be heard; He was shy as a kid, but is being heard on the national level now almost every day. And between his law practice, television appearances, and other business ventures, he has always been in a hurry.
Guster received his accounting and finance degree from Alabama State University where he pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and became a member of the Mighty Marching Hornets and of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity. After college, Guster became a licensed real estate broker and formed a real estate agency in Birmingham concentrating in investment properties. Guster completed his J.D. at The Birmingham School of Law and formed Guster Law Firm, LLC, in 2002.
Guster has handled thousands of cases and has become a go-to lawyer when the media needs a legal expert to discuss major cases and legal topics. He has been a legal resource to national and local media outlets, including CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC, HLN, The Today Show, The Birmingham News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, al.com, NBC, CBS, ABC, and Black America Web. Guster is also a regular commentator on WBRC FOX 6.
Guster is active in the media while maintaining a heavy case load at his law office in Birmingham. And his real estate background led him to still another venture, developing the old Red Cross building on the eastern side of downtown into a mixed-use project. His first building that butted up against the Birmingham News building was sold at the same time to Infinity Insurance. “I got the idea for the new building from being in New York, where it seems every building in Manhattan and Brooklyn is some kind of mixed-use property. When I bought the old Red Cross building, I was originally going to use it for the law office. But I scaled back on the office space and want to develop it into a more well-rounded mixed use building, something great for the city. We have some very exciting tenants coming in,” Guster says.
“Never quit” is Guster’s motto. He applies it to everything he does, from handling cases in the courtroom to training in Crossfit. The urge to share his views, his voice, happened early for Guster. “I had a dream. This was something I wanted to do. I built a studio in my house. I bought a step and repeat, an old desk, two chairs, and a camera,” he says. “And I practiced; and then I practiced some more.” He worked in radio early on. “Radio trained me as well. You only have your voice.”
“Legal analysis is the ability to convey information and talk things through in a way that leads to understanding. There are plenty of smart people in the world, but relatively few who can convey information in a way that can keep an audience’s attention and keep them entertained,” he explains. “What I do is public speaking on steroids, not to a roomful of people but to 2 million people at a time. It takes a lot of practice.”