John D. Adams


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  • University of Virginia School of Law, JD, Managing Editor, Virginia Law Review, 2003
  • Virginia Military Institute, BA, Economics, Distinguished Graduate, 1996
  • District of Columbia
  • Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Member, Lewis F. Powell, Jr. American Inn of Court

John is the Chair of the firm’s Government Investigations and White Collar Litigation Department, which was recently recognized by Law360 as a “Practice Group of the Year.” Drawing on his deep experience in both private practice and government service, John represents corporations, boards, and executives facing significant legal, regulatory, and reputational risk in criminal, civil, and congressional proceedings. He has resolved complex investigations through innovative settlements and successfully tried cases as both a federal prosecutor and defense counsel. He recently secured a full acquittal for a bank executive following a 10-week jury trial in a case brought by the Department of Justice.

In addition to his Government Investigations practice, John is frequently called upon by firm clients to brief and argue appeals in courts across the country. He routinely advises clients with matters pending before the United States Supreme Court and has briefed matters before the Court, and he has also represented clients in dealings with the Solicitor General’s Office. He is a Co-Chair of the firm’s Appeals and Strategic Issues Team.

Prior to joining McGuireWoods, John served in positions of significant responsibility throughout the government. As Associate Counsel to the President of the United States, he represented the Office of the President in congressional investigations and other sensitive matters. His primary responsibility included handling issues arising out of the Department of Defense and State Department. In addition, he coordinated with the Department of Justice on litigation implicating the Office of the President. And as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, he tried cases ranging from fraud to violent crime and managed complex grand jury investigations involving fraud, public corruption, and other matters.

John served as law clerk to Associate Justice Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court from 2006 to 2007 and to Circuit Judge David B. Sentelle on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 2003 to 2004. Prior to becoming an attorney, he served as a United States Naval Officer from 1996 to 2000.

John is the firm-wide Hiring Partner and Co-Chairs McGuireWoods' Recruiting Committee. He is involved in the community and has previously served as an adjunct professor of Appellate and Trial Advocacy at the University of Richmond T.C. Williams School of Law. He serves as a trustee of the VMI Foundation.

In the News

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John D Adams
T: +1 804 775 4744F: +1 804 698 2061Gateway Plaza
800 East Canal Street
Richmond, VA 23219-3916
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As lead trial counsel, obtained a full acquittal for a bank executive following a ten-week jury trial in a case brought by the Department of Justice following the bank’s failure, while all co-defendants were found guilty on multiple charges.

Developed and leads an innovative litigation and crisis management team for one of the world’s largest financial institutions.

Resolved a years-long criminal investigation into activities related to the mortgage foreclosure crisis at one of the nation’s largest banks with a non-criminal settlement.

Resolved a grand jury investigation into accounting practices at a major, national accounting firm with no charges brought forward.

Led an internal investigation related to money-laundering activity at one of the nation’s largest banks that concluded with no adverse action to the institution.

Defended multiple corporations and executives in various Congressional and grand jury investigations that are not publicly available.


Rourk v. Bank of American Nat’l Association , 2014 WL 4823611 (11th Cir. Sept. 30, 2014) (argued)

Missouri ex rel. KCP&L v. Missouri Pub. Serv. Comm’n , 13-787 (U.S., cert. denied, 2014)
(briefed at petition stage) Secured a call for the views of the Solicitor General (CVSG) on a certiorari petition from a decision of the intermediate Missouri appellate court. Petition of the Day on Scotusblog. Petition: 2013 WL 690477.

Burwell et al. v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. , 134 S.Ct. 2751 (2014)
(briefed as amicus) Represented 15 members of the U.S. Congress in an amicus brief describing the purpose of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and urging that the contraceptives mandate violated the “super-statute” RFRA. The Supreme Court struck down the contraceptives mandate. Amicus brief at 2014 WL 333886.

Wolf v. Fed. Nat’l Mortg. Ass’n , 512 Fed. Appx. 336 (4th Cir. 2013) (briefed and argued)

United States ex rel. Jones v. Collegiate Funding Servs. , 469 Fed. Appx. 244 (4th Cir. 2012) (briefed and argued)

United States ex rel. Goldberg v. Rush University Medical Center , 680 F.3d 933 (7th Cir. 2012) (briefed and argued)

Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, 15-105 (cert. granted, November 6, 2015)
(briefed as amicus supporting certiorari) Represented law professors arguing that the contraception mandate commandeers nuns’ healthcare plans by including contraception even though the government pays for it, and that this imposition burdens the free exercise of religion under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Certiorari granted. Amicus brief available at 2015 WL 5117957.

Named a "Local Litigation Star," Benchmark Litigation, 2018

Selected for inclusion as a "Leading Lawyer," Corporate Investigations And White-Collar Criminal Defense, Virginia, Legal 500 US, 2016-2018

Selected for inclusion in America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations, Virginia, Chambers USA, 2012-2018

Named to “Virginia Super Lawyers,” Criminal Defense: White Collar, Civil Litigation: Defense, Appellate, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2012-2017

Named to "Legal Elite," Criminal Law, 2012-2013, 2015, 2017; Appellate Law, 2016, Virginia Business

Speaker, "Legal, Regulatory, Litigation and Insurance Issues," Community Banking and Cyber Risk Management, September 17, 2014