CowanGates | Attorney | Melanie Friend

Melanie Friend


Melanie 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.

Melanie is an active leader in Richmond’s legal community and has served as president for the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association and the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation. She has also previously served on the board of directors of the Richmond Bar Association, the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. American Inn of Court, the Collaborative Professionals of Richmond, and the Metropolitan Richmond Family Law Bar Association.

Melanie joined CowanGates in 2007 after obtaining her law degree, with honors, from William & Mary Law School and completing a clerkship for the Honorable Timothy E. Meredith of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

CowanGates | Attorney | Melanie Friend

Melanie Friend


“When I was in the process of choosing an attorney to handle my divorce, I was looking for someone who would work closely with me to resolve my concerns promptly, sensitively, and within my budget. In Melanie Friend, I found such an attorney. Throughout the divorce process, she was a thoughtful advocate who listened carefully to my unique circumstances and helped me to understand and evaluate all my options. She was always thorough and responsive and I would highly recommend her.”

Chris O., Family Law Client

“I was in an untenable situation, working with other attorneys to no avail. Melanie understood my frustration, pain and disappointment. She worked tirelessly on my account, to come to an amenable solution for both parties. Melanie was able to balance my emotional needs with the realities of the complex situation.”

Amy C., Family Law Client
CowanGates | Attorney | Melanie Friend

Melanie Friend

  • Family Law
  • Virginia, 2006

William & Mary Law School, Williamsburg, Virginia, 2006

  • Honors: Moot Court, 2004 – 2006
  • Honors: National Trial Team, Served as Lead Development Counsel, 2005 – 2006
  • Honors: 2005 National Trial Competition, 2nd place in regionals

Thiel College, Greenville, Pennsylvania, 2003
B.A., English

  • Honors: Summa Cum Laude
  • Honors: Salutatorian, Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Study Abroad
  • Honors: Thiel College Excellence Award (Full Undergraduate Scholarship)
  • Metro Richmond Family Law Bar Association
  • Virginia Collaborative Professionals
  • Collaborative Professionals of Richmond
  • Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association, Past President
  • Lewis F. Powell, Jr. American Inn of Court
  • 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
  • MS Society BikeVirginia, Co-Captain for CowanGates team
  • CancerLINC – Legal Information Network for Cancer
CowanGates | Attorney | Melanie Friend

Melanie Friend


  • Virginia Lawyers Weekly “Leaders in the Law” 2019 honoree
  • Virginia Lawyers Weekly “Up & Coming Lawyers of 2016” honoree
  • Virginia Business Magazine Legal Elite (Family Law) since 2013
  • Virginia Super Lawyers, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 (Family Law)
  • Virginia Super Lawyers Rising Star, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 (Family Law)
  • Virginia Super Lawyers Top 50 Women Lawyers, 2020, 2021, and 2022
  • Richmond Bar Association’s 2013 Young Lawyer of the Year
  • Member, National Association of Distinguished Counsel – Nation’s Top One Percent (Family Law)