McGuireWoods’s white-collar practice was founded in 1993 by George Terwilliger III and Richard Cullen after both had served in government. 

Terwilliger spent eight years as a prosecutor in Washington, DC, and Vermont before being appointed US attorney for Vermont by Ronald Reagan in 1986 He later went on to serve as the principal deputy attorney general and deputy attorney general of the Justice Department under George HW Bush.

Cullen began his career as an associate at McGuireWoods, but left in 1991 for a stint as the US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, appointed by President George HW Bush. After returning to the firm as a partner for four years, Cullen set off once more to serve as the attorney general of Virginia. Cullen, along with Terwilliger, later served on George W Bush’s legal team during the ballot recount in Florida that ultimately led to the younger Bush’s election. In 2006, Cullen rejoined McGuireWoods, where he now serves as the firm’s chairman. Terwilliger also departed McGuireWoods for a time to search for a more internationally focused law firm. After stops at White & Case and Morgan Lewis, Terwilliger returned to McGuireWoods in January 2015.

Other DC-based white-collar lawyers at McGuireWoods who practise on FCPA matters include J Patrick Rowan, who in 2008 capped an 18-year career at the DOJ with service as head of the national security division; and Robert Bittman, who served as a deputy prosecutor in the Whitewater investigation into the real estate assets of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The firm over the years has had its hand in a number of high-profile cases. Representing Tyco in connection with an FCPA investigation by the DOJ and the SEC, the firm developed criteria for a comprehensive risk assessment of the sprawling conglomerate’s business units. The criteria, which were approved by the Justice Department’s FCPA unit – under then deputy chief Mark Mendelsohn of the criminal division’s fraud section – was used by McGuireWoods to review Tyco’s operations in dozens of countries. The Tyco risk assessment model became a cornerstone of the firm’s other FCPA-related work. It was used, for example, by Terwilliger and McGuireWoods to advise Oregon-headquartered Schnitzer Steel in relation to an FCPA probe that resulted in US$7.5 million in criminal fines. 

More recently, Just Anti-Corruption has reported that Terwilliger represents US auto manufacturer Ford in an ongoing foreign bribery investigation. Cullen also represents Sepp Blatter in the highly publicised DOJ corruption probe of world soccer governing body Fifa.

Terwilliger has been a vocal critic of the DOJ’s FCPA enforcement. In 2012, he co-authored a paper – released at the Chamber of Commerce's Legal Reform Summit – that called on the department to provide more information on the white-collar criminal investigations it declines to prosecute.

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