Board of Governors Candidates Platform Statements
Here are the platform statements for the 2021 candidates for The Florida Bar Board of Governors. Ballots for the election will be mailed or emailed on March 1, and must be returned no later than 11:59 p.m. March 22.
Bar members will have the choice of voting by the mailed paper ballot or voting online by following instructions with the mailed ballot. Any runoffs will be held in April.
This year’s balloting has one race in the 11th Circuit and one in the 15th Circuit. The winners will be sworn in during the June Annual Convention.
11th Circuit, Seat 6
Frances G. De La Guardia
My name is Frances Guasch De La Guardia and I am running for The Florida Bar Board of Governors, 11th Circuit, Seat 6.
I have practiced law for more than 30 years and have had a diverse legal career, including serving as a staff lawyer for five 17th Judicial Circuit court judges, law clerk for the Honorable Melvia Green at the Third DCA, trial lawyer at a small firm, in-house appellate counsel for a national insurance firm, and my current position of partner at the multi-national law firm of Holland & Knight (H&K) going on 14 years. My career has provided me the unique insight of practicing in many areas of the law — all while balancing work and motherhood.
For the past six years, I have served on the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA) Board of Directors. And in 2020, I had the honor of serving and leading the organization as president during the global pandemic. Despite the challenges of an extraordinary year, we were able to re-invent the organization’s programming and pivot to an online service-based platform to benefit the community (members and non-members) via valuable CLE content and mental-health webinars; I would bring that expertise to the BOG. During my term on the CABA board, I was able to gain insight into the BOG while serving as an ex officio member from 2018-2019.
While at H&K, I was nationally recognized for my pro bono (over 100 hours annually) and community service work (assisting victims of hurricanes Irma and Maria, in the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico).
I pledge to focus on:
• Taking my experience leading a voluntary bar organization during a pandemic and using that expertise to better meet the needs of our membership, whether on digital or in-person platforms, including member CLE and mental-health programming and assistance.
• Ensuring we continue to embrace diversity and inclusion and advocate for equality and elimination of gender bias in the practice and business of law.
Throughout my career I have committed myself to the legal community and have a proven record of service. Serving is my calling and I wish to continue to serve. I hope that my record of community service and effective leadership will allow me to serve as your representative on the BOG as your Circuit 11, Seat 6, representative.
Other Experience and Leadership:
• The Florida Chief Justice’s Advisory Committee for the Pro Bono Service Awards, 2020.
• CABA Foundation, President, 2021-Present.
• CABA, President, 2020.
• CABA, Board of Directors, 2015-Present.
• CABA Pro Bono, President, 2019.
• Florida Bar Board of Governors, Ex Officio Member, 2018-2019.
• Florida Bar Civil Rules of Procedure Committee, 2017-2019.
• Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator, Civil and Appellate, 2014-Present.
• St. Thomas University School of Law, Advisory Board, 2016-Present
• St. Thomas University School of Law, Alumni Association, President, 2016-Present
• Florida Bar Appellate Rules of Procedure Committee, 2007-2014.
I humbly ask for your support and respectfully ask for your vote beginning March 1, 2021. Visit my website www.fdlgbog.com to review a list of endorsements of my candidacy.
I would like to thank The Florida Bar for this opportunity to introduce myself to you and respectfully ask for your vote. I am running for the seat being vacated by Steve Davis, who is running for Bar president. If elected, I will work to ensure that The Florida Bar improves benefits and resources to help the everyday working lawyer serve his/her clients.
Our Bar is large, diverse, and faces many challenges. The pandemic has changed how we counsel clients, network, build practices, interact with each other, and practice law. My broad range of experience will uniquely enable me to see and understand the challenges we face. If elected, I pledge to put my 34 years of experience as a trial and appellate lawyer, circuit judge, appellate judge, and chief judge for the Third District Court of Appeal to work for you, your firm, our community, and the Bar.
I have served in the public and private sector, in a large firm representing corporations and a small firm representing plaintiffs injured from defective products, as a circuit court judge, and as chief judge on the Third District Court of Appeal. I have practiced criminal law (as an assistant state attorney), and civil law as a litigator, and I have extensive appellate experience, hearing appeals and writing opinions that helped shape and clarify the law as a judge, and now handling appeals as an appellate lawyer. I have tried over 100 jury trials as a lawyer and over 300 jury trials as a circuit court judge, and I have authored approximately 1,000 published opinions. Throughout my career, I have remained committed to public service and developed strong leadership skills.
My public service includes: Kristi House Board of Directors (abused children); Urban League Manhood Development Council Board of Directors (at-risk inner-city children); Capital Crimes Commission (governor appointment); Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee (Florida Supreme Court appointment); Professionalism Committee (Florida Bar appointment); and a criminal rules subcommittee (Florida Supreme Court appointment); guardian ad litem; hiring, working with, and training interns for 26 years; and providing over 100 hours of pro bono service last year representing an indigent criminal defendant.
I was honored to serve as the chief judge of the Third District Court of Appeal, president of the District Court of Appeal Judges Conference where I ran the judicial education program, and to receive the following recognition from our colleagues:
• Distinguished Service Award, Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency
• Mattie Belle Davis Award, Florida Association for Women Lawyers
• Dedicated Public Service Award, Dade County Trial Lawyers
• Community Service Award, Spanish American League Against Discrimination
• Recognition for Contribution to Operation Desert Storm, The Florida Bar
• Honored by Israeli government for service during the Gulf War
I am committed to you, this community, our profession, and The Florida Bar. I humbly ask for your support and, if elected, I promise to be responsive to you, work every day to represent your interests, practices, and firms, and advance our profession. Thank you.
15th Circuit, Seat 4
Many of you know me from my work with the local bar and other community organizations. In that capacity, I have served as president of the PBCBA and chaired many of its committees, including the Business Litigation, Real Estate, and Appellate committees. I have been honored with the Judge Rodgers Diversity Award and the Legal Aid Society Pro Bono Award. I served on the 15th Judicial Circuit Professionalism Committee, the Bar appointed me to and I chaired the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics, have served on the Judicial Campaign Practices Committee, on the Judicial Professionalism Standards Committee, and as Bar-appointed member to the Inspector General Oversight Committee. I have also served as chair of the Fourth District Court of Appeal JNC and president of the Craig S. Barnard Inns of Court, president of the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association, and president of the Guild of Catholic Lawyers. I am a participating member of many volunteer bar organizations in the circuit.
I also chaired the Florida Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions and am privileged to be board certified by The Florida Bar in three separate and distinct areas (Business Litigation, Real Estate Law, and Appellate Law), and have been honored as Florida Bar Board Certified Lawyer of the Year. I chair one certification review committee, sit on a separate certification examination committee, and as question-tester for a third certification committee. I simultaneously sit on the Executive Councils of and am in leadership of three different sections of The Florida Bar, and chaired or serve on many Bar committees, including the Computer Law Committee. I serve in leadership for the American Bar Association and the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. I have been teaching virtually at the Florida State University College of Law for years and am one of only four attorneys in the 15th Circuit elected as a member of the American Law Institute. I have practiced in firms as small as my solo practice to multi-state national firms with hundreds of lawyers connected through technology.
I recite these experiences not to impress but to open the discussion on the things we, as practicing lawyers, need to change. I have long been a follower of Richard Susskind and have seen many of his predictions come true. I have been on the cutting edge of technology applied to law firms through my teaching, work on the Computer Law Committee, and my technologically connected firm. I remain concerned with the creep of technology and how it is impacting our Bar and its lawyers, a process that has been greatly accelerated by the pandemic. The practice of law is at a crossroads, and The Florida Bar needs leadership with diverse experiences that is accustomed to moving forward into uncharted waters to help lawyers navigate technology and practice in the 21st century. I believe I am that person and I would like your support.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you.
Michael J. Gelfand
There are many reasons we dedicate ourselves to the legal profession. It is a demanding field that requires persistence and patience. But I doubt any of us anticipated the demands facing us right now. Even before COVID-19, the practice of law has been significantly challenged. The pandemic has magnified these concerns.
I have successfully battled for attorneys and our ability to practice professionally, literally in the trenches with the Legislature, judges, ethics committees, and local officials. I am committed to making certain that Palm Beach County attorneys have thriving, professional, and fulfilling practices.
As our profession moves to conducting business virtually, we must strategically evaluate our profession’s current business model to quickly — but not foolishly — adapt. I believe that we, especially the Board of Governors, must focus on ensuring that you have the resources you need to succeed personally and professionally.
A Commitment to My Fellow Palm Beach County Colleagues
As we look to adapt and run sustainable practices, we need to take advantage of the resources readily available. Refining proposed legislation and rules and incorporating new technologies benefits our clients and brings efficiencies to our offices. As we seek to create more efficiencies, we should clear a secure and transparent path for us to accept electronic payments. Mindfully creating this option for attorneys within the Bar’s accounting and confidentiality rules, we alleviate time-consuming liabilities. We should also empower attorneys to set the record straight when defamed by internet postings, while remaining professional and not breaching confidentiality rules. Ethical behavior should be at the core of practicing law. The Bar has a duty to provide meaningful responses to ethical inquiries, allowing attorneys to practice without fear.
None of us made it where we are today in our profession alone. Through mentoring and advancing younger and diverse attorneys, we make certain the Bar and the judiciary have a new generation of leaders. This compliments our efforts in helping promote and implement healthy, fulfilling practices.
Many of you have observed my dedication to the Bar and to Palm Beach County. Actively engaging includes my efforts as chair of the 10,000+ RPPTL Section, JNC commissioner, CLE innovator, mentor, youth court magistrate, Schools Construction Oversight Committee member, recipient of the City of Boca Raton Proclamation for Professionalism and Dedication, and recipient of the Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society’s Child Advocacy Award. Currently I chair the Bar’s Professional Ethics Committee.
As a reflection of my dedication to you, fellow attorneys, if you ever had a question in my area I have always had my door open to you, taking your calls whenever, to assist you being the best attorney you can be. Many have attended lectures for which I have always volunteered for the Bar, where in each and every session I focus on relevant issues critical to your practice and real-world approaches for success. Should you choose to support me with your vote, I will commit to serve and represent the unique interests of our circuit.
Mark R. Osherow
Best qualified to represent Palm Beach County on The Florida Bar Board of Governors:
• A Willingness to Challenge Conventional Wisdom and Further Critical Issues, such as:
• Advancing Equity and Diversity
• Strengthening the Profession, with Focus on Mentoring Initiatives and Technology to Increase Access to Justice
• Developing Future Leaders
• Supporting an Independent Judiciary
• Continuing Safe Practices During Pandemic and Exploring Additional Options for Ongoing Remote Access to Court Proceedings
• A Respected Career in Law:
• More than 30 Years of Experience in the Practice of Law
• First-Chair Trial Lawyer with a Record of Success
• Commitment to Professionalism and Ethics
• Florida Board Certified in Business Litigation Since 2006
• AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating with Martindale-Hubbell
• Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator
• Qualified Arbitrator
• Recognized 14 Times as a Florida Super Lawyer
Awarded Best Lawyer® Eight Times
• Palm Beach Illustrated Top Lawyer
• Florida Legal Elite by Florida Trend
• The Florida Bar Journal Excellence in Writing Award
• A Long History of Bar Service:
• Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization & Education
• Florida Bar Business Litigation Certification Committee (Chair)
• Florida Bar Federal Practice Committee
• Florida Bar Standing Committee on the Unlicensed Practice of Law (UPL)
• Editorial Board, Florida Bar Journal & News
• Florida Bar Lawyers Assisting Lawyers
• Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Grievance Committee (Chair)
• Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instruction for Contract and Business Cases
• Board of Directors for the South Palm Beach County Bar Association (SPBCBA) for 11 years (Past-President)
• Sponsor: Palm Beach County Bar, South Palm Beach County Bar, The Florida Bar Business Law Section
• Trial Lawyers Care, pro bono support, September 11 Victim Compensation Fund
Learn more at www.osherowpllc.com; Email: [email protected]. Or, speak to Mark directly by calling: 561-258-0880.
Mark Osherow welcomes the opportunity to continue to serve The Florida Bar with:
*PASSION * INTEGRITY * COMMITMENT
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that our world is changing. The same can be said for the legal profession. We have entered a new era of advancements in technology, unparalleled competition, and drastic shifts in client expectations. As a co-founder of my own law firm, I have had a front-row seat to these changes. Being a lawyer is challenging and demanding, but the practice of law doesn’t have to be. The latter is achieved, in part, by electing someone to represent your interests with our Florida Bar Board of Governors. I believe I am that person.
As a trial lawyer, the impact of COVID and the changes it brought to our courtrooms has been a daily reminder of how technology can change our practices. I’ve participated in Zoom hearings and watched courts across the state experiment with Zoom trials. Many of these technological changes are here to stay. New rules, similar to the remote notary provisions, will need to be discussed, drafted, and debated. It’s important that your representative understands the nuances of trial and new technology to ensure that these changes do not needlessly impede the effectiveness of trial advocacy.
As a law firm owner, I understand the daily stresses of overhead and generating business. While competition is a healthy characteristic of a robust profession, there are standards which must be adhered to so that all may flourish. In my field of personal injury, we continue to struggle with illegal client solicitation. Others face the possibility of competition from non-lawyer owned entities or changes to reciprocity rules. Additionally, with the proliferation of social media, our rules pertaining to attorney advertisements are in need of updated and practical changes. As such, your representative should be a person with intricate knowledge of these issues.
As a member of this community, I heard from consumers about their changing expectations of their attorneys. Clients today expect to have unfettered access to their lawyer, at reduced rates. Clients have used technological advancements to vet and hire attorneys. We must help attorneys understand these market changes. Education is an essential component of how The Florida Bar serves its members. Creating content for these educational programs will fall to the representative you elect.
Each candidate brings with them a litany of committees, boards, and organizations they have served on. Notably, I am the only candidate who was selected by The Florida Bar to participate in its inaugural class of the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy, a training program designed to help select lawyers become better leaders. Academy fellows learned about the inner workings of the Bar and built relationships with other Bar leaders across the state. Four academy fellows from this inaugural class already sit on the Board of Governors. Placing fellows in these very positions was the goal upon creation of the academy itself. For these reasons, I humbly ask for your vote as your next Board of Governor representative.
Find me on Facebook at DZforBOG.