Community Legal Services of Mid Florida, Inc.

Legal Aid for All

Orlando, FL   |  www.clsmf.org

Mission

“To provide no-cost legal services to the most vulnerable in Central Florida and to help them protect their families, health, and livelihood.”

Notes from the nonprofit

Community Legal Services of Mid Florida has continued to provide quality services throughout our 12 county region during the pandemic. We have adapted and evolved daily to meet the needs of our clients and are committed to ensuring we Provide access to justice to all. Our core Values are the PILLAR of our work, and all staff, from attorneys to administrative. support staff and the board, have committed to working to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients and their communities. PILLAR Passion Integrity Leadership Leverage Adaptability Respect

Ruling year info

1976

Chief Executive Officer

Mr Jeff D Harvey Esq

Main address

122 E Colonial Drive Suite 200

Orlando, FL 32801 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Central Florida Legal Services

EIN

59-1156260

NTEE code info

Human Service Organizations (P20)

Seniors' Rights (R25)

Consumer Protection and Safety (W90)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Approximately 50-80% of low-income Americans’ legal needs go unmet. Nearly one million people in Central Florida live at or below the poverty level, and qualify for CLSMF’s services. Those who live in poverty are often without the resources to access legal assistance. Our lawyers, paralegals, and advocates provide free legal aid, helping more than 20,000 people in Central Florida each year with their Civil legal issues. We help low-income people resolve urgent, non-criminal legal problems that make a difference in their everyday lives, such as protecting the elderly from unlawful evictions, making sure women and children are protected from violence in their homes, and helping veterans receive financial benefits they have earned and need.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Consumer Law

CLSMF is the largest provider of Legal services in Central Florida, serving 12 counties; Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia Counties.

CLSMF's Consumer Law Unit focuses on problems related to debt collection, garnishment, repossession, unfair sales practices and home improvement problems, bankruptcy, student loans, utility problems, contracts, consumer scams, small claims courts and debtor harassment. CLSMF may be able to assist a client if a creditor is wrongly attempting to garnish their wages, bank account, or other property. These are
common issues faced by many consumers who often don’t realize they have rights in protecting their assets. In addition to providing legal advice or representation, CLSMF’s Consumer Law attorneys also assist clients by instructing and assisting them in filling out and filing legal documents and provide guidance on going to court on their own.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Adults
Ethnic and racial groups
Victims and oppressed people
Work status and occupations

CLSMF is the largest provider of Legal services in Central Florida, serving 12 counties; Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia Counties.

CLSMF’s Children’s Rights Unit works to change the discriminatory policies that disproportionately affect children in foster care, those with disabilities, and non-white students. Through the Safe Path Through
Education Initiative, CLSMF attorneys promote significant, lasting, system-wide improvements in education for children with disabilities in Florida by reversing the School-to-Prison Pipeline. CLSMF’s Children’s Rights attorneys ensure that schools and school districts identify children with suspected
disabilities, evaluate children’s needs to determine if special education services are warranted, and provide eligible children a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environmental and educational placement possible.

Population(s) Served
Young adults
Children and youth
At-risk youth
Economically disadvantaged people

CLSMF is the largest provider of Legal services in Central Florida, serving 12 counties; Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia Counties.

CLSMF provides clients with essential services by collaborating with community-based organizations and legal support staff that are dedicated to helping survivors of domestic, dating, stalking, and sexual violence and individuals who live in fear of future domestic violence in the household. Far too many low-income domestic violence survivors are forced to handle complex legal problems with little or no assistance.
CLSMF attorneys help these individuals with expert legal assistance. Eligible survivors of domestic, dating, stalking, and sexual violence receive free legal advice and representation with orders of protection, custody/visitation, child/spousal support and divorce, as well as housing, public benefits, and consumer issues related to the violence.

Population(s) Served
Age groups
Ethnic and racial groups
Family relationships
Economically disadvantaged people
Sexual identity

CLSMF is the largest provider of Legal services in Central Florida, serving 12 counties; Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia Counties.

CLSMF’s attorneys provide legal representation and advice to seniors (aged 60 and older) with legal issues including living will and advanced directives, financial exploitation through the misuse of their money or property, deprivation of necessities by a caregiver, physical and sexual abuse, and durable power of attorney.

Population(s) Served
Seniors
Economically disadvantaged people
Victims of crime and abuse
Retired people
Veterans

CLSMF is the largest provider of Legal services in Central Florida, serving 12 counties; Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia Counties.

CLSMF provides legal representation and advice to homeowners and renters on a wide range of legal issues including foreclosures, mortgage scams, reverse mortgages, landlord tenant disputes, subsidized housing, fair housing and other prohibited practices. By providing legal advice and assistance on these
issues, CLSMF helps Central Florida’s families, veterans, seniors and other vulnerable members of the population stay in their homes and avoid homelessness. 

CLSMF is also a HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agency. Housing counselors work with clients on foreclosure prevention, budget and credit preparations and rental counseling. This Unit also conducts First
Time Homebuyer Workshops and Post-Purchase Financial Literacy Workshops. Housing Counselors assist clients in applying under Florida’s Hardest-Hit Program, which provides mortgage assistance to qualified Florida homeowners for up to 12 months.

Population(s) Served
Age groups
Ethnic and racial groups
Family relationships
Social and economic status
Work status and occupations

CLSMF is the largest provider of Legal services in Central Florida, serving 12 counties; Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia Counties.

In an effort to help more residents who cannot afford an attorney solve their civil legal problems, CLSMF hosts ongoing free Legal Advice Clinics and Workshops throughout the year. The attorneys who facilitate Clinics and Workshops volunteer as part of CLSMF’s Volunteer Lawyer Project. Information on upcoming clinics can be found on CLSMF's website.

Eligible clients have the opportunity to receive free legal advice from an experienced civil private
practice attorney at no cost (otherwise known as “Pro Bono”) by attending a
Legal Advice Clinic.

Attorneys only provide legal advice during a Clinic, but may in certain circumstances take cases for full representation. A legal advice consultation with the attorney may last anywhere from half an
hour to over an hour, depending on the particular legal issue. Typically, the legal advice received during the one-on-one attorney consultation is enough to empower the client to handle their legal issue successfully.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

CLSMF is the largest provider of Legal services in Central Florida, serving 12 counties; Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia Counties.

CLSMF’s Public Benefits Unit attorneys, paralegals and advocates assists clients who are denied benefits, such as SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, Medicare, and Reemployment Assistance (unemployment compensation). We represent those who face the cessation of Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), particularly if those facing cessation are children or those over the age of 55. We also advocate for disabled children and adults who face the denial or the reduction of Medicaid covered services, as well as services under the Florida iBudget for the developmentally disabled. The Public Benefits Unit staff operate a SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery) program with the City or Orlando and Orange County. Staff complete SSI/SSDI applications for eligible adults who are experiencing homelessness and have mental illnesses, medical impairments, and/or co-occurring substance abuse disorders. This Unit is made up of both paralegals and attorneys who are committed to representing clients at all levels of appeal for those cases where appeals are warranted.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Age groups
Ethnic and racial groups
Family relationships
Health

CLSMF is the largest provider of Legal services in Central Florida, serving 12 counties; Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia Counties.

Florida has the third highest veteran population in the country, with many being post-9/11 veterans and retired veterans. Unfortunately, all veteran disability claims must be processed at the single regional office in the state, located in St. Petersburg. Unsurprisingly, there is a large backlog of claims at the regional office and veterans must wait several years for appeals decisions. The goal of the Veterans Advocacy Project at CLSMF is to help veterans present strong disability claims and appeals so they have a higher chance of being granted benefits. Since 2009, we have been providing free legal services to low-income and elderly veterans, with a focus on disability appeals and discharge upgrades for combat veterans.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Economically disadvantaged people
Veterans
Military personnel

Where we work

Accreditations

Legal Services Corporation 2013

Legal Services Corporation 2022

Awards

Best Places to Work 2020

Non Profit Times

Best Places to Work 2020

Orlando Business Journal

CEO of the Yeat 2020

Orlando Business Journal

Top Workplaces 2022

Orlando Sentinel

Affiliations & memberships

National Legal Aid and Public Defender Association - Member 2010

Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Non Profit Leadership 2013

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

CLSMF provides professional legal aid to help low-income people protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families. We make it easier for the most vulnerable and disenfranchised Central Floridians to access legal information, gain legal assistance and representation, and help them to understand their rights.

Within 12 different areas, our attorneys and advocates help solve legal issues related to consumer protection, debt and creditors, family law, children and education, domestic violence, elder abuse and neglect, health and income-related benefits, housing, and veterans’ benefits. Every year, we help thousands of Central Floridians obtain and maintain the basic necessities of life, including: food, shelter, health care, safety, and education.
Our Mission: To provide access to justice through high quality legal assistance to low-income persons.

Following the retirement of CLSMF's long-time Executive Director in 2015, Kimberly Sanchez was moved into the leadership position and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer. Sanchez developed short-term strategies, made necessary changes in leadership, and created a vision for CLSMF's future.CLSMF strives to realize the highest return from every dollar donated. The strategy to achieve the goals includes three major avenues, including operations changes, technology changes, and leveraging the CLSMF story. Activities to achieve strategies and realize goals include the following: CLSMF will continue to operate as a full service nonprofit law firm and will provide high quality legal services – the same services clients receive at large, high-priced, private practice law firms. CLSMF will focus on client-driven work while maintaining clear, open lines of direct communication. Services will be provided with minimal turnaround time.CLSMF will fully-integrate updated technology and institute operational changes to increase efficiency. The organization will strive to become the new model to follow in the legal services industry.CLSMF will work as one unified team in maintaining transparency.CLSMF will continue to strive to become financially self-sufficient and, to do so, the organization will increase awareness and gain additional community support.CLSMF’s media team will release one client story monthly, issue an annual report, increase collaborations with social service providers for the low-income community, and promote CLSMF as a problem-solver in the communities served.

2017 marked the 51st anniversary
of CLSMF providing free legal services in areas of law that primarily affect
low-income individuals and other vulnerable populations. Throughout the years,
CLSMF has grown from 1 office serving 1 county to 10 offices serving 12
counties.CLSMF currently has 41 staff attorneys with combined legal experience of 272 years. These attorneys work at a much lower pay than their counterparts in private practice. CLSMF has 59 support staff comprised of leadership, management, maintenance, legal assistants, paralegals, advocates, intake specialists, receptionists, and other necessary support personnel.  Every year, private attorneys volunteer their time at CLSMF to provide services to low-income clients to resolve legal issues. CLSMF has ongoing partnerships with bar associations, various social service agencies, homeless services networks, law enforcement agencies, schools, consumer advocate groups, United Way agencies, homeless shelters, teen programs, guardian advocates, Guardian ad Litem programs, private and public attorneys, senior citizen centers, housing authorities, Councils on Aging, and veterans’ agencies. In 2017, CLSMF conducted numerous community education events, assisting thousands of people in attendance. Target audiences include seniors, first-time home buyers, low-income tenants, veterans, homeowners in foreclosure, low-income debtors seeking to file bankruptcy, homeless individuals, and other needing assistance. CLSMF staff conduct these outreach and community education events for the vulnerable population in the service area, including homeless, veterans, prisoners, parents of special needs children, non-English-speaking communities, persons with disabilities, public housing residents, and victims of domestic violence.

The ultimate goal of CLSMF is to provide some level of service to 100% of the eligible client
population in our 12-county service area. Though this may seem idealistic, we continually
work toward this goal. For example, one of CLSMF’s objectives for 2018 is to
double the number of attorneys on the helpline to assist twice the number of
individuals seeking assistance. Through this system, attorneys answer calls, conduct
immediate triage, provide advice and brief services as appropriate, and refer
to other CLSMF attorneys where extended services are appropriate. The major
obstacle toward achieving our ultimate goal is the lack of financial resources.

To improve the “way we do business”, CLSMF recently converted to new, cutting-edge technologies to make operations more efficient for clients, volunteers and staff. Desktop computers were replaced with Microsoft brand Surface devices (Surface Pros and Surface Books) that provide greater mobility for attorneys, paralegals and support staff as they travel to court and/or meet with clients in the community. We changed our office suite to Microsoft’s Office 365, a cloud-based solution that provides greater, more secure access to client documents for attorneys on the go. We also replaced our client case management system from a stand-alone database to a web-based system, again allowing for greater mobility. With the help of a Legal Services Corporation Technology Initiatives Grant, we installed a program-wide, cloud-based videoconferencing system to enable us to conduct program-wide staff meetings, case review meetings, client training opportunities and private client conferences. All these changes provided for enhanced, faster services to clients and improved experiences for volunteer attorneys. The changes also allowed CLSMF to have collaborative tools to support an increased focus on larger, more complex cases with a greater impact on the low-income community we serve. New technology also provided us with an increased ability to recruit and retain volunteer attorneys.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Community Legal Services of Mid Florida is the largest provider of Legal services in Central Florida, serving 12 counties; Brevard, Citrus, Flagler, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia Counties. Our clients are financially disadvantaged living at or below 200% of the poverty level. CLSMF serves all clients who qualify for our programs without discrimination. Our 12 county service area makes up 21.6% of the state's populous with over 4 million people and more than 11% live in poverty, qualifying for our services.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email, Phone and Post Case Surveys,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Throughout the COVID -19 Pandemic our volume of Helpline calls increased significantly. Wait times for in-person contact increased due to the high volume of calls. We added a call-back system to ensure our clients were not being delayed and our attorneys are able to dedicate their time to each client appropriately. During the Pandemic shutdown, we engaged more individuals by phone as well as incorporated the video options, to conduct required court appearances. We review feedback on a weekly basis from clients and staff, and incorporate changes that will improve our client service and outcomes as well as the staff environment and morale.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    We continue to improve our services and the way we provide them. We have gained a deeper understanding for and the ability to adapt to, individual and unique situations. Our staff and leadership consistently consider the effects of all known and prospective scenarios when making policy or program changes. Leadership, Managers and the entire staff meet weekly to review company progress, policies, needs from both the client and personnel perspective and work diligently on addressing the key components that require a company wide solution. Managers are encouraged to make decisions on the local level that affect their direct staff and clientele for effective and positive solutions.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve,

Financials

Community Legal Services of Mid Florida, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Community Legal Services of Mid Florida, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 09/21/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Kevin Ross-Andino

Hispanic Bar Association

Term: 2018 - 2025


Board co-chair

Ms. Sherri Akiin

Volusia County Bar Association

Term: 2017 - 2024

Joseph Colombo

Mommers & Colombo, Attorneys at Law

Joseph Mason

McGee & Mason, P.A.

Melissa Miller

St. Johns River State College

Cynthia Hamilton-Smith

Golden Rule Housing and Development

Sherri Akin

Volusia County Bar Association

James Argento

Lake County Bar Association

Kevin Ross-Andino

Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida

Carrie Rentz

Seminole County Bar Association

Wynn Vickers

Marion County Bar Association

Scott Owens

Camaraderie Foundation

Tarnecia O'Berry

Community/Client Volunteer

Sakeena Nix

Community/Client Volunteer

Cassandra Brown

Community/Client Volunteer

John Bartley

Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 9/21/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/30/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.