Nicole La Roque

2024-2026

 

Nicole La Roque earned her law degree from the University of Florida Levin College in May 2024. Before law school, Nicole received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Florida and a Master of Social Work degree from Florida Atlantic University. While completing these programs, Nicole honed her skills in providing direct support and advocacy for vulnerable populations, particularly children and families involved in the child welfare system. Her experience as a social worker sparked her journey into public interest law, leading her to seek large-scale solutions to address systemic barriers preventing Floridians and their families from accessing critical social services.

During law school, Nicole actively engaged in various legal and advocacy roles. She has served as a law clerk with Florida Health Justice Project (FHJP) since May 2022, primarily contributing to the Long-Term Care Advocacy Project, funded by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs to improve access to legal services for low-income Floridians needing long-term care services. In this role, Nicole created several handouts for Medicaid recipients, nursing home residents, and advocates; provided legal assistance to attorneys defending clients in nursing home discharge appeals; published client narratives highlighting issues with obtaining appropriate home and community-based services (HCBS); and helped develop two statewide trainings to improve legal representation for elderly and disabled long-term care residents.  

In addition to her work with FHJP, Nicole completed an externship with Southern Legal Counsel during the fall of 2022, at which time she provided legal assistance with federal civil rights litigation cases, including a case challenging Florida's administrative rule prohibiting Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care. She also volunteered and interned with Three Rivers Legal Services, assisting low-income clients with their driver's license reinstatement,  family law, criminal expungement, and property cases. Most recently, Nicole was a part of UF Law's Gator TeamChild Juvenile Law Clinic, serving as a Certified Legal Intern with the circuit's Guardian ad Litem program.

As a 2024-2026 Borchard Fellow, Nicole will continue at FHJP, expanding its efforts to promote the well-being of low-income older adults requiring a nursing home level of care. Through a tailored multi-pronged advocacy approach, Nicole will collaborate with partners throughout the state to expand access to HCBS for low-income seniors, tackle systemic and administrative barriers to HCBS access, reduce inappropriate nursing home discharges, and increase legal representation for seniors in Medicaid and nursing home discharge fair hearings. By addressing individual cases and systemic challenges, Nicole's project aims to foster a more equitable and supportive environment for Florida's vulnerable elderly population.

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