Melanie A. Friend

Richmond, Virginia

fax 804-320-2950







2018 Virginia Business Legal Elite Logo 2017 Virginia Business Legal Elite Logo 2016 Virginia Business Legal Elite Logo




Rated by Super Lawyers National Association of Distinguished Counsel Logo Up & Coming Lawyers 2016 Logo





2017 Super Lawyers 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 served as President 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.

For the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation, Melanie serves on the board of directors and is a member of the Foundation’s Triage Committee, which is working with Central Virginia Legal Aid to develop a program wherein private practitioners provide legal assistance to Legal Aid’s indigent clients in specific legal areas where the need exceeds the capacity of Legal Aid to staff cases.

Melanie discusses 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 “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 and 2019 (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
International Association of Collaborative Professionals
Virginia Collaborative Professionals
Collaborative Professionals of Richmond, Board Member
Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association, Past President
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
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:
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