Michele Zavos

Michele has over 36 years of experience as an attorney in the Washington metropolitan area. She works very closely with her clients, and is known for her creativity and passion for helping clients solve problems. She is a member of the D.C. and Maryland Bars.

Michele works primarily in the areas of adoption, parenting, assisted reproductive technology, estate planning, family formation, mediation, and probate matters. Her practice is particularly focused on developing legal protections for families, including families headed by same-sex couples. She was counsel to Jessica Port in the landmark case, Port v. Cowan, which established that Maryland must recognize marriages between same-sex couples that were validly entered into in another jurisdiction. Michele also provides clients with appropriate referrals for any legal matter.

She has successfully represented clients in close to 1,000 adoptions in Maryland and the District of Columbia, and has worked with thousands of clients in her career. Michele was elected to the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys in the spring of 2005 and to the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys in 2010. She was named an "Angel in Adoption" by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton in 2009.

She is an active member of the Bars of the District of Columbia and Maryland, and received her J.D. from the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 1979, and her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1974, where she majored in history and minored in journalism, and wrote for the Daily Cardinal.

Michele served on the first Board of Directors for the Mautner Project, The National Lesbian Health Organization, and served on the Board of Directors for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force for three years. She was one of the founders in 1982 of the first "Maybe Baby" group for lesbians in the Washington metropolitan area. She was appointed to the D.C. Taxicab Commission by Mayor Marion Barry in 1985 and the D.C. Commission on Child Support Guidelines by the D.C. City Council in the spring of 2010.

Michele was one of the first co-chairs of the Gay and Lesbian Subcommittee of the D.C. Bar, the precursor to GAYLAW, and is a founder of the National LGBT Bar Association. She served on the District of Columbia Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for more than 8 years by appointment of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Michele served on the Adoption Rules Committee for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and supervised and edited the work on "Marriage Inequality in Maryland" for Equality Maryland, which was on a review of the Maryland Constitution and Code for discrimination against same-sex couples. She volunteered regularly with the Lesbian Services Program at the Whitman-Walker Clinic. Michele's work on behalf of LGBT families in the Washington metropolitan area was recognized in 2005 when she received the District of Columbia Capitol Pride Director's Award for Family. She was recently named a Community Pioneer by the Rainbow History Project, and voted the Best Lawyer in the Washington Blade's Best of Gay DC contest.

Michele was instrumental in changing the law in the District of Columbia so that adoptions can be granted solely based on the birth of a child in the District. She also helped amend the D.C. divorce law so that couples married in D.C. who are later unable to divorce in their home jurisdictions may return to D.C. to divorce.

For many years Michele taught as an adjunct professor for the Women's Studies Program at the George Washington University and the Washington College of Law at American University. The American University named her Outstanding Adjunct Professor in 1999. She is the author of many articles on AIDS and HIV and sexual orientation and the law. She has won numerous awards for community service from LGBT organizations in the Washington area, including the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club Jerome Heilman Award, the Community Service Award from the Whitman-Walker Lesbian Services Program, the Woman's Monthly Community Service Award, the Wanda's Warriors Award, and the D.C. Center's Award for Outstanding Service to the LGBT Community of Washington, D.C.

Michele lives in Washington, D.C. with her partner of many years. Michele's father was in the Air Force, and she grew up all over the world, living in Germany, Japan, and Switzerland before she was 18. Michele spends as much time as she can in Montmartre, in Paris, where her heart is. She reads extensively about the Holocaust and the Second World War in Europe, and its aftermath. She is trying to improve her French. Her daughter is 30 and a professional cook who has her own catering company serving the Washington metropolitan area.