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September 27, 2022

Reflections From the Virtual Lunch: Michelle Friends, Executive Director at Fairfield and Woods

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Ari Kaplan Interviews Michelle Friends, Executive Director at Fairfield and Woods

Throughout the month of August, SurePoint Technologies sponsored the Virtual Lunch with a focus on Igniting Innovation. The Virtual Lunch is hosted by Ari Kaplan, a legal industry analyst/speaker and Reinventing Professionals podcast host. Ari brings together people from the legal community every day from 12pm – 1pm ET to discuss a variety of topics. Sign up to join.

The Virtual Lunch on August 31 welcomed Michelle Friends, Executive Director at Fairfield and Woods, a law firm located in Denver, Colorado. Michelle is a member of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) Chapter Resource Team and is Treasurer of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA). Michelle joined the Virtual Lunch to share her career trajectory, the importance of mentorship and being accessible, and why everyone’s voice and involvement is necessary to break barriers, innovate, and help shape company culture. 

Below are some key takeaways from the chat!

Michelle joined Fairfield and Woods, one of the oldest law firms in Denver, in 2011 as the Marketing and Business Development Director. She then became the firm’s Executive Director, a role that has provided her with additional opportunities to learn more about other areas of the firm and further build and foster relationships. 

One important area Michelle focused on first as Executive Director was the firm’s technological capabilities. She realized changes needed to happen for the firm to keep up with advancements in technology, so the firm made the decision to replace its outdated billing system and move to the SurePoint Legal Management System (LMS). With LMS in place, the firm has been able to work faster, increase efficiencies, and implement better client management.  

When adopting new technology, Michelle believes getting support from a variety of firm leaders and having collaboration between teams is necessary. “It is important to have lawyer and staff involvement when selecting new technology,” said Michelle. “Allowing people, especially the ones who will be using the software the most, to be part of the decision-making process is essential and logical as the firm innovates.”  

When asked about preparing for a role in leadership, Michelle noted the importance of mentorship, being available, and listening. She counts Timothy Corcoran and Mark Beese as her personal mentors. She said she also encourages people to get involved in organizations, such as the ALA and LMA, to build connections and foster relationships. In addition, Michelle recommends listening more to those around you and in your industry so that you can continuously learn and grow. Michelle shared: “I do a lot of listening. I spend time reaching out to people to make sure that they not only have what they need to do their jobs but also to recognize them and celebrate milestones, such as work anniversaries, birthdays, and more.” 

As Executive Director, Michelle tries to create an environment that allows people to build the practice and career path they want and enjoy it. She also recognizes the importance of culture in a law firm and how imperative it is for everyone to know that they are valued. “Every role has meaning,” said Michelle. “And maintaining open communication, providing opportunities for growth, and giving everyone a voice in shaping the culture of the firm are all keys to retention.”  

When not focused on innovating at Fairfield and Woods, Michelle spends time with her family and their pet potbellied pig, Malcolm, who is eight years old. Because of Malcolm, Michelle has been able to connect with more people in the community and has become involved with a local potbelly pig rescue. 

Thank you to Michelle for being a special guest on the Virtual Lunch!

About the ALA

ALA is the premier professional association connecting over 8,000 leaders and managers within the legal industry. ALA provides extensive professional development, collaborative peer communities, strategic operational solutions, and business partner connections empowering its members to lead the business of law. For more information on ALA, visit

About the LMA

Founded more than 35 years ago, the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) is the professional community of choice for thousands of members advancing the business of law in the United States, Canada and the world at large. Representing firms of all sizes, LMA’s members are recognized as leaders in marketing, business development, client services, pricing, market intelligence and communications in the legal industry. For more information, visit

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