WHAT'S UP AT MCGUIRE WOODS?
Quick Questions for Melissa Glassman,
Managing Parter Northern Virginia office
How many lawyers in Tysons, how many firm wide?
About 75 and 750.
Do you still consider yourselves a Virginia firm?
No, no, no. Obviously we're very proud of being in Virginia, but we service clients nationally, including many who are Virginia based. We work as teams across offices. For example, we represented Bank of America in a large commercial matter, obtaining a jury verdict in Fairfax County, and then when a companion case was filed in California, we could turn it over to our LA office.
Where are your offices now?
New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Charlotte, LA, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville. In Virginia, we have Richmond, of course, as well as Tysons Corner, Norfolk and Charlottesville. And our office in DC. Internationally, we have offices in Brussels and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
What growth plans do you have here?
We have strong real estate and labor and employment practices—but we are always looking to add practice groups.
What's special about the Northern Virginia office?
We've been on the ground floor in this community for 40 years. We feel really connected to it. A lot of our lawyers have come here because they want to be a part of what is going on in the region.
Why does your firm feel so connected?
Our practice here started as Boothe, Pritchard & Dudley, the premier and largest law firm in Northern Virginia at that time, which had been here since the days of those pictures of Tysons as just a gas station at a crossroads in the middle of fields. McGuire Woods merged with it in 1987, at the time the second largest law firm merger in the country. McGuire Woods also had a long history as a premier law firm and had been in existence well over 100 years, starting in Richmond. At the time of the merger, the union of the two firms was billed as the “Old” and “New” Dominions getting hitched.
What's your office known for?
Commercial litigation, commercial real estate and land use matters and employment litigation. The Boothe firm had represented many well known companies such as GM, Mobil Oil, Charles E. Smith, and West*Group in their real estate matters. Many of those representations have continued on through the years. Currently we do a lot of Dominion Virginia Power’s transmission and pipeline work, Sprint/Nextel commercial litigation, and employment work for AT&T, GTSI, and Booz Allen, to name a few. One of my partners, Stanley Franklin, represents the sanitation authorities of Alexandria, Prince William, and Loudoun counties. We affectionately call him the "sewer lawyer."
You specialize in all courts?
Oh, yes, Federal and state, although we're probably best known for the work we do in the Eastern District. But we appear in plenty of local courts too. Two of my former partners, in fact mentors, are Fairfax county circuit judges: Terrence Ney and Robert Wooldridge.
Getting a flat tire on vacation last year in Kenya.
What's special about your office?
Our culture is a unique combination of sophisticated practices and a very collegial atmosphere. I can’t think of anywhere else you’d find a team of attorneys who had just won a multi-million dollar verdict in a complex commercial litigation matter showing up dressed up like a bunch of bumble bees on Halloween, but that’s the type of place this is.
What's your role in governance?
I wear two hats: office managing partner, and department chair for the complex commercial litigation group.
How'd you get the job?
After my predecessor, Mike Flemming, left the firm to become senior counsel at Smithfield Foods, our firm Managing Partner said, "Hey, would you mind doing this?" It's not like I ran for it or had a platform. I love this place and it people. It is the best job there is.
Where are you from?
I'm an Army brat who grew up in San Antonio and elsewhere in Texas. My family's still there. I went to the University of Texas undergrad. I worked for a Texas congressman after college, started a family, and went back to law school at Mason when my kids were two and three. I must have been crazy, right? They would be taking naps and I would be reading contracts. Or I read secured transactions sitting at the baby pool. I was hired by Boothe in the fall of 86, I graduated in 87, and by the time I started it was McGuire Woods. It will be 20 years in September.
How will you celebrate?
Probably go downstairs to the Palm, try to rack up my Palm Points with a little blackened ribeye steak.
Anything offbeat you do on the side?
We travel. Now that my son lives in Sydney with his wife, we've visited there three times in the last year.
How’d that happen?
Met a woman in Las Vegas. That’s what happens.