Dan Gelber and Akerman: Who's Zooming Who?

The always intrepid Julie Kay breaks the slightly late resignation of Dan Gelber from Akerman in the wake of that firm getting the massive BP business:
State Sen. Dan Gelber has resigned his counsel position with Akerman Senterfitt two weeks after saying his firm’s representation of BP was a “non-issue.”

Gelber is joined by state Sen. Joe Negron, who quit Akerman in the last week to join Gunster in West Palm Beach. Two other state lawmakers are still working at Akerman: state Sen. Alex Villalobos and state Rep. Joe Gibbons, a nonlawyer consultant.

Read the letter from Dan Gelber to supporters

Gelber, who now plans to run full-time for Florida attorney general, said he planned to quit immediately after being told by the Daily Business Review that his firm has been hired to represent BP for all Florida civil litigation. “I knew immediately I would have to,” he said. “But it doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been a lawyer for 25 years. I have a lot of clients to tell.” But Gelber also said it was not an issue since he was of counsel and not an equity partner at Akerman, Florida’s largest law firm. Villalobos, who also is of counsel, agreed and shared a letter he wrote to Akerman’s managing partner, Andrew Smulian, on May 24 asking that the four legislators who work at Akerman be “walled off” from any BP discussions or documents.
As I said, I know and like both of these candidates, and they are eminently qualified and will make terrific AGs.

But Gelber should have immediately tendered his resignation in light of Akerman's retention, and not argued irrelevancies like his of counsel relationship and whatever Chinese Wall his firm thought was high enough to erase any perception of conflict.

And even if he decided last week he had to resign (before Aronberg demanded it), that is one week after the story broke and therefore one week too late. He should have included his resignation in his first public statement on this matter.

But really this episode shows you how little regard Akerman holds for its "of counsel" partners.

When they ran the conflicts check, the issue with Dan obviously came up.

And rather than support their partner and stay on one side of that issue, they seem to have decided that gelt is the better part of valor and the dude running for office will have to deal with the consequences.

Two weeks later, he did.


  1. Very interesting. And wholly predictable. When the PR benefits of having an elected official who probably generates very little business on your letterhead clash with the need for revenue, even if that entails taking on a politically unpopular client, guess who goes overboard? Don't blame Gelber and don't blame Akerman. The same scenario would play out at every similarly situated law firm in the country. Let's face it. Law firms are no different from the deli down the street: you gotta make money to survive.

  2. SFL - who is Mayanne Downs (other than president of the Florida Bar) and why is there a 13 page advertisement for her in the July/August Fla Bar Journal?

    Does anybody else think it is a bit too much?

    Just asking.

  3. Where is ___________ when you need him -- the use of Bar funds for what amounts to personal advertising is something that he could make headway on.

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