South Florida LBT Women in the Legal Field

Photos by Carina Mask.

Elizabeth Schwartz

The Heavy Hitter

Liz Schwartz is a powerhouse lawyer and author of "Before I Do". Credit: Carina Mask

Attorney, advocate, lecturer, philanthropist, and author, if you Google Elizabeth Schwartz you will find information on her career in family and adoption law, her numerous leadership and legal awards, and her involvement in Miami’s Jewish and LGBT community.  Until you have met Liz, and experienced her wit, her humor, her uncanny ability to read everyone, you have not experienced the powerhouse of a woman that is Liz Schwartz.

She has been fighting to protect same sex couples since she became an attorney in 1997- everything from estate planning, adoption, navigating surrogacy programs, and creating contracts that would protect both partners long before LGBT couples could marry in Florida. 

She has been fighting to protect same sex couples since she became an attorney in 1997- everything from estate planning,

In her book, “Before I do: A Legal guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise,” she wrote, “We fought hard for marriage equality.  'We deserve the fundamental right to wed the partner of our choice." Still, as we have known for decades, LGBT people build stable, loving, committed relationships without marriage.  Several studies show that today fewer heterosexual couples are choosing to marry, deeming marriage an outmoded, musty institution.  The irony is not lost on us, that as many straight folks have been bailing from the marital ship, gay couples have clamored to jump abroad.   Maybe after the thrill of marriage equality wanes, more same-sex couples will regard marriage the same way some younger heterosexual couples do: as not much more than a “piece of paper.”

The Miami based attorney travels frequently to lecture on the importance of estate planning, second parent adoptions, and family law. 



Nora Rotella and Patricia Hernandez of Rotella & Hernandez Law. Credit: Carina MaskPatricia Hernandez and Nora Rotella

Immigration & Family Law Attorneys

Rotella & Hernandez Law is a boutique law firm where the couple strive to be hands on with every aspect of the case. 

Patricia Hernandez specializes in immigration and Nationality Law, Criminal Law, and Family Law.  She has dedicated her career to represent clients whom need asylum, applications for residency, work visas, and DACA. 

Ms. Hernandez has personal experience navigating the complexities of becoming a citizen in the United States; she became a US citizen in 1995- using her knowledge and her past experiences, she assists her clients with gaining citizenship and flourishing in the US. 

Nora primarily works with Family Law; everything from prenuptial agreements, child support or custody, second parent adoptions, alimony. 

Studies from the Williams Institute at UCLA approximate 267,000 undocumented people identify as LGBT. 

With the current administration spewing hateful rhetoric about immigrants and the uncertain future on DACA (Dreamers), both Patricia and Nora are working tirelessly to advocate for the disenfranchised and vulnerable.   Some undocumented LGBT people were able to marry their partners who are US citizens and were able to apply for citizenship.  However, there is a large number of undocumented LGBT people who are single or also in a relationship with another undocumented person. 

Two major issues arise there, visibility and access to competent resources.  Both Patricia and Nora have been providing free legal services for at risk individuals.  They are both heavily involved with outreach and education in Miami Dade and Palm Beach. 

Patricia says, “We are trying to do a homeless youth project, which basically is going out there to places like Pridelines, and letting them know that we’re here and willing to provide pro bono services.  This project arose because a lot of immigrant children were being thrown out of their homes because they came out as LGBT, and then the organizations weren’t able to provide assistance because they do not have a Social Security number- most of the grants need SSN’s for funding purposes.”

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