Melanie A. Friend

Richmond, Virginia

fax 804-320-2950
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Super Lawyers 2017 LogoMelanie Friend practices family law at CowanGates focusing on divorce, child custody and visitation, spousal support, child support, adoption, and prenuptial agreements. She is qualified as a guardian ad litem for children. Melanie is also trained to represent parties in the collaborative divorce process. She joined CowanGates in 2007, after completing a clerkship for the Honorable Timothy E. Meredith of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

Melanie obtained her law degree from William & Mary School of Law, where she earned Honors for excellence in research, writing and client relations. In addition, she served as a member of the Moot Court Team and National Trial Team. As a member of the National Trial Team, Melanie was one of three students to represent William & Mary at the 2005 National Trial Competition after finishing in second place at the regional level of the competition. She also served as Lead Development Counsel for the National Trial Team, training new team members in basic trial techniques.

In 2003, Melanie graduated summa cum laude from Thiel College with a bachelor of arts degree in English and was named class salutatorian. Melanie received the Thiel College Excellence Award, a full academic scholarship presented each year to one entering freshman. She also received the Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Study Abroad, allowing her to spend a summer term studying at University College Cork in County Cork, Ireland.

Melanie serves as treasurer for the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association. She serves as a member of the Richmond Bar Association’s Judicial Candidate Endorsement Committee. Melanie is also a member of the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. American Inn of Court, the Richmond Bar Association, the Chesterfield County Bar Association, the Metro Richmond Family Law Bar Association, and the Family Law Section of the Virginia State Bar. An active member of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, she serves on the Young Trial Lawyers leadership committee and authored an article about Fifth Amendment protection in adultery cases for publication in the VTLA Journal. In 2012, she served as co-chair of the Bench-Bar Conference planning committee.

Melanie Friend – Family Law



Virginia Lawyers Weekly announces inaugural class of “Up & Coming”Lawyers

“Getting to Know: Melanie Friend” – Richmond Times-Dispatch

Sole Custody – Sociology of Divorce
Invoking the Fifth Amendment in Adultery Cases – Do Cheating Spouses Get to Cheat the System
How To Make The Most Of Your Consultation Time
Areas of Practice: 
Family Law
Bar Admissions:
Virginia, 2006
College of William and Mary School of Law, Williamsburg, Virginia, 2006
Honors: Moot Court, 2004 – 2006
Honors: National Trial Team, Served as Lead Development Counsel, 2005 – 2006
Honors: 2005 National Trial Competition, placed second in regional competition
Thiel College, Greenville, Pennsylvania, 2003
B.A., English
Honors: Summa Cum Laude
Honors: Salutatorian, Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Study Abroad
Honors: Awarded full undergraduate scholarship – Thiel College Excellence Award
Honors and Awards:
Virginia Lawyers Weekly “Up & Coming Lawyers of 2016” honoree
Virginia Business Magazine Legal Elite (Family Law) 2013 – 2016
Virginia Super Lawyers, 2015, 2016 and 2017 (Family Law)
Virginia Super Lawyers Rising Star, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 (Family Law)
Richmond Bar Association’s 2013 Young Lawyer of the Year
Member, National Association of Distinguished Counsel – Nation’s Top One Percent (Family Law)
Professional Associations and Memberships:
Metro Richmond Family Law Bar Association, Board Member and President 2015-2016
International Association of Collaborative Professionals
Virginia Collaborative Professionals
Collaborative Professionals of Richmond, Board Member
Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association, Past President and Treasurer
Lewis F. Powell, Jr. American Inn of Court, Board Member
Chesterfield County Bar Association
Richmond Bar Association, Board Member
Greater Richmond Bar Foundation, Board Member
Virginia State Bar, Family Law Section
Virginia Trial Lawyers Association
State Bar Disciplinary Committee for the 3rd District
Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce
Central Virginia Legal Aid Society
Past Employment Positions:
Maryland Court of Special Appeals, Judicial Clerk, 2006 – 2007
United States Attorney’s Office for Southern District of West Virginia, Summer 2005
Community Activities:
Chesterfield Innovative Academy for Girls (a nonprofit private school), Member of the Board of Directors
MS Society BikeVirginia, Co-Captain for CowanGates team
Chesterfield County Pro Bono Protective Order Program
Rotary Club of Richmond, Board Member
CancerLINC – Legal Information Network for Cancer