Michele has more than 36 years of experience as an attorney in the Washington metropolitan area. She works very closely with her clients, and is known for her personal service. She generally is available to her clients after regular business hours and on weekends as necessary. Michele focuses her practice on adoptions, estate planning and the preparation of personal planning documents, including Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Living Wills, probate, surrogacy, and family mediation.
Michele has successfully represented clients in over one thousand adoptions in Maryland and the District of Columbia, including second-parent and joint adoptions, readoptions after a foreign adoption, step-parent adoptions, foster care adoptions, direct placements, and agency adoptions. She has worked with thousands of clients to establish estate plans, including drafting Wills and other personal planning documents. She has also negotiated property and custody agreements for separating couples. Michele now has a family mediation practice to assist couples in resolving their disputes without going to Court. Based on her work in adoption matters, Michele was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys in the spring of 2005. She was also elected to the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Attorneys for her work on surrogacy and other assisted reproduction issues. Because of her extensive contacts, Michele can provide clients with appropriate referrals for any legal matter.
Michele has been a pioneer in creating legal protections for LGBT headed families and families headed by unmarried opposite sex couples. She was one of the founders in 1982 of the first "maybe baby" group for lesbians in the Washington metropolitan area. She has been representing LGBT families in second-parent and joint adoptions since these adoptions were established in Maryland and the District of Columbia in 1994. Michele is particularly sensitive to these issues as she has a now adult daughter from a same-sex relationship.
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. American University named her Outstanding Adjunct Professor in 1999. Michele has won many awards from LGBT organizations for her longstanding service to the LGBT community, including being the recipient of Capital Pride's Director's Award for Family, Woman's Monthly Community Service Award, Whitman-Walker Lesbian Services Program Community Service Award and the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club Jerome Heilman Community Service Award.
Michele was also one of the first co-chairs of the Gay and Lesbian Subcommittee of the D.C. Bar, the precursor to GAYLAW. 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 worked with Equality Maryland on a review of the Maryland Constitution and Code for discrimination against same-sex couples. She volunteers regularly with the Lesbian Services Program at the Whitman-Walker Clinic. She is also a selected member of the National Family Law Advisory Council for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
For many years Michele has given presentations on adoption, estate, and same-sex family issues to all kinds of audiences, both national and local, including Unitarian Universalist Churches, Metropolitan Community Churches, Wanda's Will Project, "Maybe Baby" classes, Gay Family Foundation, the Passages Conference, National Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Association, the District of Columbia Bar, the D.C. Center, Whitman-Walker Clinic, and others. She has also written extensively on LGBT family law, sexual orientation and the law, and AIDS and the law.
Prior to building her own law practice, Michele worked for Georgia Legal Services in Statesboro, Georgia; Legal Aid in Baltimore, Maryland; as a law clerk to Judge Gladys Kessler when she was on the bench of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; a small law firm in the District of Columbia, and the American Bar Association as Director of the AIDS Coordination Project. Michele was also a partner in the firm of Dolkart and Zavos.
She is an active member of the Bars of the District of Columbia and Maryland, and received her J.D. degree 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.