Born and raised in New Orleans, Jacque Touzet often helped his father work in the family business, a saddle workshop near the New Orleans Fairgrounds. As a child, he enjoyed riding mini-bikes, go-karts and any other type of wheeled vehicle with a motor on it. He soon graduated to a motorcycle.
“My first real bike was an ugly but lovable Suzuki 550GS,” he says.
Touzet is a devoted rider and now owns a Ducati Monster. He also has two superbikes, which he often rides at NOLA Motorsports Park.
After graduating from law school in 1999, Touzet started his own law practice, and throughout the years, he’s refined it in order to help his friends and peers in the motorcycling community. While Touzet represents clients in a variety of other kinds of cases, his focus is on protecting the interests of motorcycle riders.
More than a mode of transportation, Touzet believes motorcycles also provide a source of identity and culture for people who have, at times, been marginalized by society.
“I never saw him,” is a common complaint he hears from drivers who have had an accident with a motorcyclist.
“And people tend to assume the rider is automatically at fault,” he says. “If he’s on a sports bike, they say he’s reckless. If he’s in leathers, they say he’s a thug. Most attorneys with general personal injury practices don’t understand how motorcycles work, how motorcycle riders think, or the idiosyncrasies of motorcycle cases. In short, everything from the injuries to the property damage are very different.”
Just one simple difference, he says, is that cars and SUVs are rarely modified except for maybe a bumper sticker or a dreamcatcher dangling from the rearview mirror.
“But the fact is 95 to 98 percent of all motorcycles are customized,” Touzet says.
From custom handlebars to powerful turbochargers, custom modifications make bikes an individual expression of their riders. As such, replacing them after a wreck can be a bit more complicated than simply pounding out a dented bumper.
Touzet doesn’t do much advertising. He does very little print and no TV, radio or billboards, but one advertising strategy has worked wonders for his business.
He uses two Smart cars that he had wrapped at Big Daddy Wrap in Harvey. Touzet worked with the company’s designers to create the orange and black eye-catching design. At a cost of about $2,500, Touzet thinks the creative advertising is worth it.
“The cars are about the same length as a motorcycle, so they work well at rallies and events,” he says. “The folks at Bike Night and other events know them well. They catch people’s attention and people associate them with my brand.”
Touzet’s partner, Carolyn Hennesy, believes the firm’s success is due in large part to Touzet’s street knowledge and the fact that he speaks the language and understands the culture of their clients.
“My practice is really not about the money,” he says. “We have the chance to keep our clients riding in our ranks and we want to avoid another “I used to ride, but…” story. Our main goal is to get clients back on a bike again and doing what they, and we, love.”