Board of Governors Candidates’ Platform Statements
Here are the platform statements for the 2022 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 21.
Bar members will have the choice of voting by the mailed paper ballot or voting online by following instructions with the mailed ballot.
This year’s balloting has one race each in the 10th and 17th circuits. The winners will be sworn in during the June Annual Convention.
C. Richard Nail
Rick Nail, the 10th Circuit Board of Governors representative, has served since 2010. He is a member of GrayRobinson in Lakeland practicing exclusively in marital family law. He also served as your representative on various committees with the Board of Governors as Chairman and as a committee member on the Program Evaluation, Disciplinary Procedure, Disciplinary Review, Professional Ethics, Certification Plans Appeal, and Appeals committees and has been Board Certified in Marital Family Law for 30 years.
Prior to Board service, Nail served on the Family Law Board Certification Committee, one year as chair. He also served for approximately five years as a member of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education Committee. He has been the president of two bars during his practice of approximately 48 years: the Lakeland Bar Association and the Clearwater Bar Association. He is a native of Polk County and desires to continue to serve as your Board representative.
As most of us know, there have been major issues for the Board to review and discuss and make recommendations to the Supreme Court. Most recently, there has been the issue presented by a Special Committee regarding the creation of a Law Practice Innovation Lab Program, referred to as “Legal Lab” or “Regulatory Sandbox.” Among other things, the Special Committee provided recommendations regarding nonlawyer ownerships of firms, fee sharing with nonlawyers, expanded use of Florida Registered Paralegals, lawyer advertising, and the “Legal Lab,” all of which were unanimously rejected by the Board of Governors and the recommendations were sent to the Florida Supreme Court at the end of December 2021. This is but one matter that is constantly being discussed and reviewed by the court and various committees.
Other matters that come before our Board are the various disciplinary rules and sanctions against lawyers, rules regarding deferment and exemption and minimum standards for recertification in various areas. The Legislation Committee’s report at each meeting specifically discusses and recognizes what the Legislature has done and has recommended regarding the practice of law.
Additionally, we have reports each meeting regarding the review of professional ethics, the Bar’s budget and investments, the audit report, and recently, the task force regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic recovery. These are but a few of the matters on our agenda for the next few years and I intend on serving as a constant reviewer and decision-maker for the betterment of our Bar.
I graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in English and Stetson College of Law in 1973. I intend on continuing to represent all of the lawyers in the 10th Circuit, encompassing Polk, Highlands, and Hardee counties and I have always continued contact with the various members of our Bar in the various cities and communities in our circuit. I request you consider my record and understand I have always put our Bar first and intend to make its future better. I respectfully would appreciate your vote to return me to my position as your representative on the Board of Governors.
Victor R. Smith
Many of you know me from my work with local bar associations and my involvement with other organizations within the 10th Circuit Legal Community. In the past, I have been honored to serve in the following capacities:
• Board of Governors (Young Lawyers Division) (2004-2012)
• Civil Procedure Rules Committee (2001-2007)
• Judicial Administration & Evaluation Committee (2011-2015)
• Florida Board of Governors Executive Committee (Young Lawyers Division) (2007-2008)
• By-laws Committee (Young Lawyers Division), Chairman (2007-2008)
• Sergeant of Arms (Young Lawyers Division) (2008)
• Liaison to The Florida Bar Foundation (Young Lawyers Division) (2005).
• 10th Circuit Judicial Nominating Committee (2010-2014)
- Polk County Family Law Bar Association (2002 -2005)
- Vice-President (2005)
- Treasurer (2004)
- Secretary (2003)
• Polk County Trial Lawyers Association (1999-Present)
- President (2019)
- Vice-President (2018)10th Circuit Professionalism Committee (2013-Present)
• 10th Circuit’s Grievance Committee (2018-Present)
- Chairperson (2020-Present)
• 10th Circuit Fairness and Diversity Committee (2019-Present)
• American Inn of Court (10th Circuit’s “Willson Inn of Court” Chapter) (1999-Present)
• Tenth Circuit Historical Society President (2020-present).
Most of my past committee service to The Florida Bar has been as a member of the Young Lawyers Division. However, since I no longer am able to serve in that division, it is my great desire to continue to serve The Florida Bar as a member of the Board of Governors. I have been practicing law in the 10th Judicial Circuit for more than 20 years; first in my father’s firm; later in larger law firms; and for the past eight years in my own small firm in Winter Haven.
Having a father who was a lawyer, and having a number of other relatives who practiced (and some of whom are still practicing) law in the 10th Circuit, my life has been centered on law and my family. I was born and raised in Polk County and married Jennifer, a Polk County native, who spent a number of years teaching school in the county. We have a wonderful daughter who is in her senior year of college in Florida.
Growing up, with my roots in the legal community, I learned early on that it takes hard work and commitment from people who are willing to give that time and effort. I fully understand the needs and complexities involved and am eager to serve as the 10th Circuit’s representative on The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors. It is my desire and goal to keep our legal profession one that is strong, responsive to our members’ needs, and respected by both those in the profession and those whom we serve.
I pledge to remain committed to our profession, The Florida Bar, and our community. I humbly ask you, my 10th Circuit fellow Bar members, for your vote. If I am elected to serve on the Board of Governors, I promise to be responsive to you; to work hard representing your interests and needs; and to keep our profession strong and honorable. Thank you for your consideration.
William “Bill” Gelin
My name is William “Bill” Gelin, and I have practiced criminal law for the last 20 years. I am also the principal author of the award winning, corruption busting Broward Courthouse blog, JAABLOG.
Both facts are why I’m running for the Board of Governors (BOG).
As a criminal lawyer and journalist, I have dedicated my career to fighting against institutionalized racism and its byproduct, mass incarceration. Working primarily in Broward, known for traditions of draconian sentencing and an unparalleled level of JQC-worthy judicial bad behavior, I have seen in recent years beneficial strides made in both areas. Less people are going to prison for non-violent, low level, aggressively filed charges, and judges, for the most part, also are adhering to the same standards and rules of professionalism demanded of those appearing before them.
That being said, hard fought gains could disappear faster than our South Florida beaches are eroding if strong, outside voices are not immediately heard at the highest levels of The Florida Bar (TFB).
No less an authority than Jorge Labarga has highlighted some of the concerns being discussed throughout the legal community, most recently through a dissenting opinion in December, which serves as a candid criticism of his more conservative fellow justices on the Supreme Court.
From the dissent:
“(T)he majority’s decisions of late have ushered in a series of drastic changes in civil, criminal, and rulemaking contexts, and today’s decision by the majority only furthers this list.”
Labarga was moved to make his statement over a rule modification he believes will jeopardize further progress toward diversity in the legal profession, an area where so much improvement is still needed. Taken together with a recent ruling impacting constitutional rights of due process and against self-incrimination, and TFB new Rule 3-7.18, which many believe will severely chill and limit attorney free speech, these factors and others should cause concern for all those interested in criminal justice reform.
Criminal justice practitioners are woefully underrepresented on the BOG, something I hope can start to be remedied if I’m fortunate enough to be elected. However, the issues I am discussing affect all Bar members, and most importantly, the general public, for which TFB exists to protect.
TFB must switch gears and stand to preserve the ability of attorneys to zealously advocate for their clients, and to maintain the right to truthfully call out or criticize errant or unprofessional judges who embarrass us all, without the fear of retribution.
Unfortunately, traditional checks and balances continue to be eroded by the Bar and others, and without a strong outside voice on the BOG, the already precarious trust between the general public and the legal profession may be compromised.
It’s too important a time to maintain a business-as-usual attitude at TFB. New ideas and courage in support of honest attorneys trying to make a difference are needed, as opposed to representatives interested in networking and boosting their personal profiles and revenues. If elected, I will fight for you, and for the public we serve.
It was just two years ago when I ran for re-election to the Board of Governors for the 17th Judicial Circuit. “Just two years ago,” however, is an unfathomable understatement as our world, our country, and our legal community have experienced events and changes, the likes of which most of us have never seen before. During this unprecedented period, I have contributed many hundreds of hours serving as your representative at The Florida Bar while the Bar dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and its profound effects on the legal system. Here are just some examples of how I spent my time.
As chair of the Board’s Technology Committee, I spearheaded several projects that helped Bar members adjust to the strange new world of virtual court proceedings. Among them was The Florida Bar Recommended Best Practices for Remote Court Proceedings, a comprehensive guide for everything from evidentiary hearing procedures to proper deposition conduct on camera. This guide has been used and adopted by many courts and has helped to provide some uniformity across the state for virtual court proceedings. In addition, I worked with Zoom to recommend certain additional features to help practitioners in their Zoom meetings. Finally, I helped shape and implement the Tech Support Helpline to assist Bar members with technology issues during and after the pandemic. President Dori Foster-Morales awarded me the President’s Award of Merit in 2021 in recognition of my and the Technology Committee’s efforts toward these significant projects.
As a co-chair of the Board’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, I am working on the study of the potential for an online platform for the complete management and resolution of civil claims below a certain dollar amount, which may help consumers resolve small matters for which they cannot find legal representation. In addition, I am leading the Task Force’s efforts to monitor the work of various court-appointed groups which may have the potential to affect how Bar members practice law and how the courts manage their case load.
As a member of the Board Executive Committee elected by my fellow governors each year over the past two years, I have reviewed and decided many matters which must be determined between meetings of the Board.
Locally, from serving on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Bar Association to chairing the boards of Legal Aid Service of Broward County and Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida, I have devoted much effort to improving the legal community and the way we practice law.
The practice of law can be difficult; the business of law can be even more so. I have managed my law firm since its inception 17 years ago and have the experience to understand the issues faced by many solo and small firm practitioners. Results matter, and I get work done. I have been privileged to serve as a governor for the 17th Judicial Circuit and would be honored to continue as your representative.