Richard V. Neill
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A recent recipient of the Honorable Ben L, “Buck” Bryan Distinguished Career Award, Richard V. “Dick” Neill was born in 1934 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His family moved to Fort Pierce in 1944 where he attended St. Lucie County schools before finishing high school at Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida.
He received his B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina and was awarded an LL.B. degree (Legum Baccalaureus, the formal Latin designation for what was once almost universally the first professional law degree in the United States, the Bachelor of Laws) from the University of Florida in 1959, and this degree was subsequently replaced with a J.D.
He was admitted to the Florida Bar in1959 and to the U.S. District Court for S.D. Florida and the Fifth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals in 1960.
He served in the United States Army in 1954 and 1955 during the Korean conflict. In 1954 he married his wife, Ann Mason “Mase” Chapin, and they have six children, numerous grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Mr. Neill began his law practice with Akerman, Senterfitt, Turnbull & Eidson in Orlando in 1959 but returned to Fort Pierce and joined Fee Parker & Neill in 1960. In 1970, he and Chet Griffin founded the Neill Griffin Law Firm where he remains of counsel.
During his legal career, Mr. Neill has served as President of the St. Lucie County Bar Association (1965), as a member of the Board of Governors of the Florida Bar (1974 to 1979), and as a member of several grievance committees and judicial nominating committees.
Long recognized as an outstanding trial lawyer, Mr. Neill was one of the first lawyers to be Florida Bar Certified in Civil Trial Law (an accomplishment, even today, given to only 1% of the attorneys in Florida), he was a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates from 1986 through 2001, has been a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers since 1983, and was also certified as a Civil Trial Advocate Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.
In addition to an active trial practice, which included trying personal injury and wrongful death cases for both plaintiff and defendant, medical and legal malpractice, commercial cases and eminent domain cases, Mr. Neill was substantially involved in real estate practice as well.
In 1978, he was appointed by Chairman Bob Mann to serve as interim General Counsel for the Public Service Commission to reorganize the legal department. As a private pilot, he flew himself back and forth between Fort Pierce and Tallahassee during this period.
Outside the practice of law, Mr. Neill has been a member of the Vestry of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, was involved in founding St. Edward’s School, and did serve as Chairman of St. Edward’s Board of Trustees.