Joe Giroir, Prominent Little Rock Lawyer, Dies at 81

Charles Joseph "Joe" Giroir Jr., a prominent Little Rock attorney who was one of Arkansas' first securities lawyers, died Friday, one day shy of his 82nd birthday.

A native of Pine Bluff, Giroir came to the Rose Law Firm in 1965 from the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.

He practiced law at the Rose firm until 1988, when he left to form his own firm, Giroir Law Firm, which later merged with Watt Gregory to form Giroir & Gregory. Giroir ultimately became a partner at Giroir Gregory Holmes & Hoover until his semi-retirement in 2000.

A 1996 article in Arkansas Business noted that "when locally owned companies went public or a firm like Stephens Inc. needed underwriter's counsel, they usually looked to Giroir.

"As more companies went public in the '70s and '80s, more lawyers got into the securities practice. Giroir and H. Watt Gregory formed Giroir & Gregory in the late '80s. The firm still does much underwriter counsel work for Stephens and represents public companies such as Beverly Enterprises Inc. in merger and acquisition work."

Giroir was credited with helping build what became Worthen Bank Corp. of Little Rock, a banking powerhouse, in the 1980s.

Another example of Giroir & Gregory's acquisition work was the 1989 purchase of Holly Farms Corp. of Memphis by Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale for $1.5 billion. One investment analyst called that acquisition "the Battle of Britain for industry supremacy."

In a 1994 profile of the Rose Law Firm, The New York Times said of Giroir: "With his help, the firm quadrupled in size as its list of clients, a Who's Who of the Arkansas corporate elite, grew during the explosive economic growth in the 1980's."

In 2000, Giroir and his wife, Janinne, began operating the Two JJ Ranch, a 1,250-acre horse and cattle operation, in Quitman.

Graveside services for the family will be held on Feb. 23 in Pine Bluff, with a celebration of life to be scheduled later. Donations may be made to St. Francis Episcopal Church, 200 Woodland Cove, Heber Springs, Arkansas 72543.

Services are by Ruebel Funeral Home of Little Rock.