Michael Adams, Top Legal Adviser to Chairman of Joint Chiefs, Joins McGuireWoods in Charlotte

Retired Navy Commander Brings Global Cybersecurity Experience

February 22, 2017

Retired Navy Commander Michael J. Adams, who served as a top legal adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as a national security point person on cyber threats, has joined McGuireWoods as a partner in Charlotte. As a member of the firm’s Data Privacy and Security Team, Adams will advise clients on cybersecurity issues in a wide range of industries.

Since 2013, Adams advised the chairman and Joint Chiefs on legal matters affecting military operations, including cybersecurity, privacy, information governance and technology issues. He developed a legal and policy framework to combat emerging cyber threats and served as a key military adviser during significant U.S. cyber events, including the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures by North Korea.

Adams previously was deputy general counsel for U.S. Pacific Command, where he served as a special adviser on cybersecurity and sensitive technical operations. In that role, he helped design a cyber architecture and command structure unique to forces in the Pacific theater.

Adams, who is in his 15th year of practicing law, was a line officer, engineer and navigator aboard two U.S. warships before transitioning to the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He served as a legal adviser for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan and deployed six times to Afghanistan and once to Iraq, receiving the Defense Superior Service Medal and Bronze Star. He also earned the Maj. Gen. William F. Garrison Award for exceptionally meritorious service in advancing the rule of law in the Special Operations Forces community.

Adams graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, earned his J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center and an LL.M. at Harvard Law School. In 2015, he co-taught a Harvard Law national security law course that focused on maritime and territorial disputes in the East and South China seas.

“Mike has provided vital legal counsel to top military commanders and combat forces at a time of heightened tensions around the world,” said Andrew Konia, chair of McGuireWoods’ Data Privacy and Security Industry Team. “His in-depth, technical understanding of current and emerging risks, particularly for critical infrastructure, will add tremendous value for our clients in multiple industries.”

Scott Vaughn, managing partner of the firm’s Charlotte office, added, “Mike has served his country with distinction as a decorated naval officer and attorney at the highest levels of our armed forces and we are proud to have someone with his talent and experience on our team at McGuireWoods.”

“I look forward to using my government experience in data privacy and security to address the critical concerns of our clients around the globe,” Adams said. “McGuireWoods has a well-established reputation for excellence and client service, and I can’t think of a better place to build my practice.”

McGuireWoods’ global Data Privacy and Security Team works with clients to protect the integrity of their systems; develop programs to harness, manage and protect their information; and navigate post-breach investigative and remediation requirements. Fourteen team members hold certifications from the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Lawyers provide regular updates on privacy and security issues on the firm’s Password Protected blog. 

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