Michele Zavos has almost 40 years of experience as an attorney in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. She works very closely with her clients and is known for her creativity and passion when helping her clients solve problems. Clients have said she treats their cases as if they were her own, and many clients return to work with her over the entire course of their lives. She does not offer cookie-cutter solutions, but instead listens carefully to a client’s situation and works with them to create a solution tailored to them.
In her family law practice Ms. Zavos works primarily in the areas of:
- ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology)
- Family Formation
- LGBT Family Issues
- Powers of Attorney
- Wills & Trusts / Estate Planning
Her practice is particularly focused on developing legal protections for families, including families headed by same-sex couples. She has gone through many of the same family law issues that her clients face and, therefore, relates to her clients on a personal level.
Ms. Zavos 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. She 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 were later unable to divorce in their home jurisdictions may return to D.C. to divorce. Clients have said that if Ms. Zavos cannot find a way to help a client within the current legal system, she will create it.
Ms. Zavos has successfully represented clients in close to 1,000 adoptions in Maryland and the District of Columbia. She has served on the Adoption Rules Committee for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Ms. Zavos 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.
Ms. Zavos has represented LGBT clients for almost 40 years. She served on the first Board of Directors for the Mautner Project, The National Lesbian Health Organization, and the Board of Directors for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force for three years. In 1982, she was one of the founders of the first “Maybe Baby” group for lesbians in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. She 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. Ms. Zavos also 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. Ms. Zavos’ 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.
For many years, Ms. Zavos 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. In 2012 and every year thereafter, Ms. Zavos has been recognized as a Super Lawyer. In 2013, she was named Family Lawyer of the Year by the Family Law Section of the Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland. 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. She served on the District of Columbia Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for more than eight years by appointment of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. She has won numerous awards for community service from LGBT organizations in the Washington area. Michele was awarded the William J. Brennan Jr. Award from the District of Columbia Bar 2019 for her work in Family Law as Civil Rights work.
Ms. Zavos lives in Washington, D.C. with her wife Ellen and her sixth collie, Charlie. Her father was in the Air Force, so she grew up all over the world, living in Germany, Japan, and Switzerland before she was 18. She spends as much time as she can in Montmartre, 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 36 and a professional cook who specializes in sweet and savory baked goods and caramels.
POINTS OF DISTINCTION
- 2019, The D.C. Bar selected Michele Zavos as the recipient of its William J. Brennan Jr. Award for her lifetime commitment to pursuing equal justice and opportunity for all Americans
- 2012 – 2020, Best Lawyers
- 2017 – 2019, Super Lawyers
- 2013, Top 25 Divorce Lawyers, Bethesda Magazine’s “The Best of Bethesda”
- 2013, Family Law Practitioner of the Year, Bar Association of Montgomery County, every year the Family Law Action of the Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland, awards this honor to only one attorney
- Washingtonian Magazine, Best Estate Planning Attorney
- Adoptions Together, Inc.
- All Souls Church
- Anne Arundel County Bar Association
- Baltimore County Bar Association
- Bet Mishpachah
- Bingham McCutcheon
- Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church
- Columbia Fertility Associates, Inc.
- D.C. ACP Program
- D.C. Bar D.C. Affairs Section
- D.C. Bar Estate Section
- D.C. Bar LGBT CLB Seminar
- D.C. Capital Pride
- D.C. Center for the LGBT Community
- D.C. Superior Court Judges Training
- Equality Virginia
- Fairfax Bar Association
- Family Forward Surrogacy
- Family Pride Parenting Conference – Lesbian Services Project
- Federal Trade Commission
- Freddie Mac
- George Washington University Law School
- GLOBE – Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Employee Association (US Government)
- Hartford County Bar Association
- Howard County Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
- Howard University School of Law
- Human Rights Campaign
- LGBT Wedding Expo
- Marry Me in D.C.
- Maryland Fifth Judicial Circuit Training
- Maryland State Bar Association
- Mautner Project, The National Lesbian Health Organization
- Methodist Home
- Metropolitan Community Church – Boyds
- Montgomery County Bar Association
- Montgomery County Cable Show – “Making it Last”
- Montgomery County Law Day
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
- National LGBT Law Association
- O’Melveny & Myers
- Rainbow Families D.C. Annual Conference
- Rainbow Families D.C. Maybe Baby Groups
- Say I Do
- School Equality Alliance and American Constitution Society Conference
- Sidwell Friends School
- Strafford Publications National Webinars
- State Farm Insurance
- SunTrust Bank Estate Planning Seminars
- Temple Shalom
- U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
- Wanda’s Wills Project
- Washington College of Law, American University
- Whitman-Walker Clinic
- Whitman-Walker Lesbian Services Program “Maybe-Baby” class
- William & Mary Law School
- WPFW Inside Out Program
- Yours Truly
- “Sex and Sexual Orientation: Title VII after Macy v. Holder,” Administrative Law Review, American University, Washington College of Law, Issue 65-2 (2013).
- “Parentage, Parental Rights, and the LGBT Community,” Maryland Bar Journal, September, 2013. Read the article
- “What the Court Didn’t Do in DOMA case,” Washington Blade, July, 2013. Read the article
- “New D.C. Divorce Statute Aids Gay Couples,” Washington Blade, May, 2012. Read the article
- “Md. Divorce Case Holds Broad Implications,” Washington Blade, May, 2012. Read the article
- “Update of LGBT Family Law,” Washington Blade, March, 2013. Read the article
- “Starting D.C.’s First ‘Maybe Baby’ Group,” Washington Blade, March, 2013. Read the article
- 13 Incredible Parents, And Baby, July, 2003.
- “Sexual Orientation Law in the 1990s,” Trial, ATLA, Washington, D.C., August, 1995.
- AIDS Benchbook Supplement, National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada, February, 1995.
- “Federal ADA Protections for People with HIV,” Trial, ATLA, Washington, D.C., December, 1994.
- “AIDS and Health Care Reform,” 27 J. Marshall L. Rev. 279, Winter, 1994.
- AIDS and Insurance: No Guarantees, Human Rights, ABA, Chicago, Winter 1993.
- Legal Considerations, Until the Cure: Caring for Women with HIV, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, October, 1993.
- Creating a Pro Bono Program for People with AIDS & HIV (training manual), ABA, Washington, D.C., September, 1993.
- Right to Work: Job Protections for People with HIV, Trial, ATLA, Washington, D.C., July, 1993.
- Pro Bono in the AIDS Epidemic (30 minute videotape), ABA, Washington, D.C., December, 1992.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (brochure), Centers for Disease Control “Business Responds to AIDS” Program, Atlanta, Fall, 1992.
- Women in the Shadow of AIDS, Human Rights, ABA, Chicago, Spring, 1992.
- Directory of Legal Resources for People with AIDS & HIV (first edition), ABA, Washington, D.C., July, 1991.
- AIDS Benchbook, National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada, 1991.
Publications prepared for clients:
- A Guide to Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
- A Guide to Estate Planning in the Washington Metropolitan Area
- A Guide to Your Second-Parent Adoption in D.C.
- A Guide to Your Second-Parent Adoption in Maryland
- A Guide to Your Step-Parent Adoption in Virginia
- A Guide to Working Effectively with Our Law Firm