Maria Bates is an attorney licensed in Florida and Washington D.C. and the principal of Maria Bates Law PLLC. She has offices in Orlando, Tampa Bay, and Washington DC. She primarily focuses her practice on family formation and protection (assisted reproduction, child welfare, adoption, estate & special needs planning), business and nonprofit development, and visionary impact projects. She received her B.A. in Human Development with a minor in Latin American Studies from Eckerd College in 1997, her J.D. from Stetson University College of Law in 2007, and her LLM in Business Law from Florida State University in 2021.
Maria first started her career as a counselor for teenagers dealing with addictions and mental health issues. She then transitioned to special projects consulting where she designed systems, new departments, policies and procedures, and strategic plans. She also worked on unique events and projects including fundraising for a political campaign. Ready to take her career to the next level, she returned to law school. After law school, she founded two private adoption agencies, served as Executive Director and Agency attorney and assisted hundreds of clients in building their families through adoption and assisted reproduction. After a decade of practice, she returned to school for her Master’s of Law in Business Law and has added on business, food and farm law to her practice areas. Maria serves her clients from a place of passion, knowledge, and experience – having started and run her own small businesses and nonprofits and built her own family through adoption as a single parent. Maria is passionate about helping build families and working with business owners and nonprofits to effect real community change.
Maria has been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights since she was first quoted publicly on the subject at 21 when she attended her first Pride parade. She was one of the three founders of Securing Our Children’s Rights which worked to end the ban on gay adoption in Florida. She was a principal author of a shadow report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the US implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as it related to sexual minorities and has been quoted in media articles related to LGBTQ adoptions and family building.
In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for Family Equality, Maria is involved in the American Bar Association, serves as an advisory board member to the Florida Adoption Information Center, and has provided commentary and specialized trainings on adoption interventions, foster care adoptions, special needs children, and other family and community-focused issues.
When Maria isn’t working, she is spending time with her four wild and wonderful children on the road or at their small family farm. She holds being a parent as one of the most rewarding experiences of her life, adding that being a parent through transracial adoption has also broadened her horizons in ways she couldn’t have imagined, and being a parent of a child with special needs – twice exceptionalities (gifted and anxiety) – has challenged her to her core. These joys and challenges give her purpose and insight, and she doesn’t believe she would be the lawyer that she is today without them.
Together with her children, they have been to almost all 50 states (will finish the 49 in Summer 2022) by car, train, plane, or travel trailer. Maria loves seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and languages, and meeting incredible people. When she isn’t working or traveling, she can usually be found dancing, farming, off-roading in her Jeep, or participating in community activism.