April 2023


The latest news and updates from the Legal Aid Society

It's Not Too Early

An Elder Law Attorney Making a Difference

Florida is one of the leading states with older adult populations. According to the Department of Elder Affairs, Florida alone outnumbers the senior populations of 20 other states combined. As this population increases, matters such as wills, estate planning, and establishing long-term medical care become more urgent for senior individuals and their families here in Florida. These challenges may seem insurmountable, but with proper legal handling, they can be addressed. Recognizing the unique needs of our senior communities, the Legal Aid Society (LAS) of the Orange County Bar Association is ready to help with outstanding pro bono lawyers and staff. Among them is attorney Stacey Schwartz.


A native of Miami, Florida, Stacey began working for a local law firm at the age of 16, which is when she first discovered her passion for law. She moved to Orlando after high school and earned a bachelor's degree in legal studies from the University of Central Florida. Before succeeding in her profession and enrolling in law school, she briefly worked as a receptionist and paralegal. Stacey began her career working in a variety of legal areas after obtaining her law degree from Barry University's Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law, but quickly realized estate planning was her favorite.


Stacey is currently a senior associate with the Flammia Elder Law firm in Central Florida. For approximately five years, she has worked alongside Kathleen Flammia, another LAS pro bono attorney, whom she considers a great mentor. Stacey is a Florida Bar Board Certified attorney, which is a special recognition of an attorney's knowledge, skills, and proficiency in various areas. Through compassion, she has demonstrated her commitment to helping others feel empowered when it comes to making life-changing decisions. "As attorneys, we juggle a lot, but it feels good to give back and hear someone say, ‘Thank you,’" she added.


Navigating legal documents can be an onerous task, but Stacey patiently walks her clients through the process. She emphasizes the importance of looking toward public benefits and the special concerns that come with aging. Probate, which is the court process of administering a person’s estate, is one of the most common matters that she handles. "Probate happens to everyone, and if you don’t plan for it, it can be messy," she explained. "Even a nice savings of $10,000 can be depleted in a nursing home within a month." Stacey advises that efforts like Medicare planning can address a myriad of these issues and avoid having to spend a large portion of personal money. Helping clients plan a secure future for them and their families is what she finds most rewarding.


When Stacey is not practicing law, she enjoys taking long walks in nature with her golden doodle, Penny, and nursing plants. She also enjoys mentoring future legal minds and gifting them the same opportunities she was once presented with. When asked what advice she had for young people aspiring to become lawyers, she boldly replied, "Stand up for yourself and believe in who you are and what you have to offer to the legal profession.”


Pro bono attorneys like Stacey Schwartz help the Legal Aid Society to further assist and represent our most vulnerable communities. We are grateful for the generosity and support we receive from our volunteers, staff, and attorneys. It means everything to us and the communities we serve. For more information on how to get involved here at the Legal Aid Society, please call 407-841-8310 or visit our website at www.legalaidocba.org.

At the Legal Aid Society, we work with various children who have developmental disorders, including autism. This month, we are joining others around the world to help spread awareness and promote acceptance of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Harmful stereotypes and false beliefs about ASD have a negative impact on many children and adults with this disorder. That's why understanding ASD is important so we know how to provide the correct support for these individuals, their family members, and caregivers. Here are a few facts about autism we think you should know:


  1. ASD is a developmental disorder caused by differences in the brain that affects 1 in 36 children. Scientists believe there are multiple causes; however, there are some that remain unknown.
  2. The symptoms of ASD in children vary and become apparent before the age of three. Although symptoms may last throughout a person’s life, they may improve over time.
  3. Detecting signs of ASD in children can be tricky. Avoiding eye contact, being delayed in language, movement, or cognitive skills, and using little to no gestures by 12 months of age are just a few of the most common signs. If you know or have a child who may display some of these symptoms, it's important to follow up with a specialist for testing.
  4. People with ASD behave, communicate, interact, and learn differently than others, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to maintain relationships. It’s important to be sensitive, patient, and understanding of what their needs are. Try not to talk over them, and remember to be supportive.
  5. Tantrums are quite common in children, but a tantrum and an autistic meltdown are two completely different things. Tantrums are goal-oriented, whereas an ASD meltdown is an involuntary trigger response from overstimulation. It’s important to note that this has nothing to do with a person’s style of parenting.


Learning about our clients and how we can support their needs is imperative. For more information about the services we provide for children with developmental disorders, click the link to our website at www.legalaidocba.org. Additionally, the GAL Program Developmental Disabilities Attorney, Mexcye Roberts, will be conducting a virtual training session titled "Autism 101" on April 25th. For more information, contact Marilyn Carbo (mcarbo@legalaidocba.org) or Michelle Erazmus (merazmus@legalaidocba.org). Remember, kindness to others can go a long way.

The Domino Effect

Television Series

The final episode of season 1 of the Domino Effect airs on May 8, 2023, at 8:00 p.m. From immigration to mental health, The Domino Effect tackles the most challenging issues affecting Orange County residents today. Community leaders join our staff attorneys to discuss ways we can become more progressive to help our most vulnerable residents.

This next episode, Larri Thatcher and District 6 Commissioner, Michael "Mike" Scott, discuss pressing issues on housing (evictions and foreclosures), interacting with law enforcement, and services offered by the Legal Aid Society for every member of our community, including those who speak English as a second language. Make sure you follow our social media pages to stay up-to-date on new episodes. Again, tune in on May 10, 2023, at 8:00 p.m. via live stream on orangecountyfl.net.

Did you miss the last episode? We've got you covered. Click below to watch District 4 Commissioner, Maribel Gomez Codero and Laura Sanchez.

Episodes of the Domino Effect can be watched on the following channels:

  • Orange TV- (Channel 488 on Spectrum, formerly Bright House, Channel 9 on Comcast, 1081 CenturyLink Prism TV, 10.2 Digital Over the Air)

  • Vision TV - Channel 492 on Spectrum, formerly Bright House, Channel 98 on Comcast, 1082 on CenturyLink Prism TV, 10.3 Digital Over the Air

Sponsorship Opportunities

Beneficial sponsorship opportunities are available. If you're interested in making a difference helping the residents, families, and children of Orange County through The Domino Effect series, while also gaining exposure for your local business or organization, please contact Development Director Donna Haynes at 772-812-5175 or by emailing dhaynes@legalaidocba.org. Thank You!

Every Penny & Second Counts:

Donating and Volunteering at LAS

The Legal Aid Society is a nonprofit organization that relies greatly on donations and volunteerism. We appreciate everyone who supports our most vulnerable residents through generous contributions of money and time. With the end of the year almost here, consider making a donation to the Legal Aid Society!


Your time and monetary donations are used to help us provide free legal services to the residents of Orange County in need. Services include eviction assistance, debt relief, orders of protection, veteran services, and much more. Whether you donate $5 or five hours of your time, your contributions go five times farther thanks to our pro bono service model. No donation is too small or too large to help us provide equal access to justice for all.


To make a general monetary donation, click here. If you are interested in purchasing an event sponsorship in 2023, please click here. To learn more about volunteering, click here, and to take a pro bono case, click here. Thank You!

The VALOR Clinic Project:

Free Legal Help for Orange County Veterans

The Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc., in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs & the Bob Woodruff Foundation, is providing free legal services to Orange County veterans in need. No appointment is required. Income restrictions may apply. Legal assistance offered includes immigration law, family, housing, consumer law, taxes, & more.

Please view the graphic below for all dates and locations.

Legal Aid Society Lunchtime Trainings

The Legal Aid Society will be hosting a series of trainings providing in-depth insight into various legal issues. You may click here to view a calendar featuring the training schedule and other Legal Aid Society events. These lunchtime trainings are reserved for lawyers, paralegals, & law students. These trainings are virtual requiring registration via Zoom. A free lunch is available for those attending in person. Space is limited, so please be sure to register and reserve your spot.


To register, please contact Marilyn Carbo (mcarbo@legalaidocba.org) or Michelle Erazmus (merazmus@legalaidocba.org). All trainings will be uploaded to the Legal Aid Society website here.

Upcoming Trainings:

VIRTUAL ONLY - April 25, 2023

Autism 101

Mexcye Roberts, GAL Program Developmental Disabilities Attorney

Practical considerations in representing children with autism spectrum disorder.  

VIRTUAL ONLY - May 9, 2023

Guardian Advocacy

Jeanette Mora, Pro Bono Attorney & Laura Maria Sanchez, Staff Attorney

In this training you will learn the process of filing and drafting a guardian advocacy case in Florida. 


We have sponsorship opportunities for these informative trainings. Want exposure for your business within the legal community? Please contact Donna Haynes at dhaynes@legalaidocba.org for more information. Thank You!

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info@legalaidocba.org | 407.841.8310