Elizabeth Schwartz has been practicing law since 1997 and is a well-known advocate for the legal rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. She is the author of Before I Do: A Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise (The New Press, 2016). While her firm equally works with straight and gay clients in matters of family law, estate planning and probate, she has been at the forefront of providing crucial legal protections for LGBT families. She lectures locally, nationally and internationally about critical topics including the impact of nationwide marriage equality and the continued importance of LGBT couples protecting their loved ones through estate planning, stepparent and second parent adoption. Her practice focuses on family formation (adoption, insemination, and surrogacy) and dissolution, and handled the first divorce for a same-sex couple in Florida.
Elizabeth is an elected fellow of the Academy of Adoption & Assisted reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) and the Florida Adoption Council, and serves as an adoption intermediary helping make forever families of all kinds. Elizabeth also assists intended parents, gestational carriers and egg and sperm donors with their legal needs. She is the author of “LGBT Issues in Surrogacy” in the Handbook of Gestational Surrogacy, ed. E. Scott Sills (Cambridge University Press, 2016).
Elizabeth served as counsel on the case challenging Florida's marriage ban brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) on behalf of six same-sex couples and members of the Equality Florida Institute seeking the right to marry (Pareto v. Ruvin) and is still working on the Chin case, suing Florida for fair issuance of birth certificates to same-sex married couples. She also served as counsel in several cases that helped overturn Florida's bigoted 1977 ban forbidding gays and lesbians from adopting children.
Also a certified family mediator and a member of the Collaborative Family Law Institute, she treats the law as a therapeutic profession, facilitating relationship dissolution with minimal investment of emotional and financial resources. A Miami Beach native, Elizabeth received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993 and her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Miami in 1997.
Elizabeth serves as co-chair of the national board of SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders). She is a member of the National Family Law Advisory Council of NCLR as well as its National Leadership Council, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. Elizabeth sits on the GLBT Projects Fund of the Miami Foundation. An active member of her synagogue, Temple Israel of Greater Miami, Elizabeth serves on their Narot Endowment Fund board.
For her years of service, she has received the 2017 Stanley C. Myers President's Leadership Award, presented by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. She was previously honored with the Anti-Defamation League's 2016 Miami Jurisprudence Award and the ACLU of Florida’s 2015 C. Clyde Atkins Award. In 2014, the University of Miami School of Law Center for Ethics and Public Service recognized Elizabeth with its Lawyers in Leadership award. She received the National LGBTQ Task Force's 2012 Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award. Also in 2012, Elizabeth was tapped for membership into Iron Arrow, the highest honor attained at the University of Miami. Equality Florida, the statewide LGBT rights group, honored Elizabeth in 2011 with its Voice for Equality Award. In 2010, Elizabeth was named by the National LGBT Bar Association as one of the country's Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40, and also received the Women Worth Knowing Award from the City of Miami Beach Commission for Women. In 2008 she was honored with the "Valuing Our Families" Community Award, presented by Sunserve. In 2007, she received the Dade County Bar Association's Sookie Williams Award and the Aqua Foundation for Women Leadership Award. And in 2005, she received the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Community Award. In November, 2016, Elizabeth will proudly receive the Anti-Defamation League’s Jurisprudence Award.
A lefty and a Scorpio, Elizabeth lives with her wife, writer Lydia Martin, and their rescued Havanese, Gracie Kenisha de la Caridad, in Miami's urban core.
Before I Do: A Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay & Otherwise (The New Press, 2016)
Handbook of Gestational Surrogacy, LGBT Issues in Surrogacy (Cambridge University New Press, 2016)
The many faces of transgender discrimination, Trial Magazine (American Association for Justice, Oct. 2016)
Out and About: LGBT Experience in the Profession, Trailblazing Advocacy (American Bar Association, 2015)