Ryan D. Frei


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  • University of Richmond School of Law, JD, cum laude, 2005
  • Cornell University, BA, Government and Spanish, cum laude, with Distinction in All Subjects, 2002
  • Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

Member, Virginia State Bar

Member, Virginia Bar Association

Member, Federal Bar Association (Richmond Chapter)

Member, Richmond Bar Association; Judiciary Committee, May 2018 - Present; Administration of Justice Committee, June 2015 – April 2018; CLE Committee, June 2013 – May 2015

Past Member, Junior Board of the Historic Richmond Foundation

  • Spanish

Ryan serves as co-chair of the firm’s energy disputes practice. He is a versatile commercial litigator who assists clients in navigating their most challenging business disputes, from pre-litigation counseling through trial and appeal. Most of his engagements arise out of complex contracts within regulated industries, and many involve allegations of fraud or other tortious conduct. He has been with McGuireWoods since 2006, following a one-year clerkship with then-Chief Judge James R. Spencer of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Ryan represents clients in state and federal courts across the country. Recent representations involved energy supply and services, government contracting, construction, supply-chain design, securities, mortgage origination practices, financial services, wireless services, commercial real estate, insurance coverage, D&O and fiduciary matters, fraudulent conveyances, healthcare services, and agribusiness.

He regularly practices in — and has deep knowledge of — the Eastern District of Virginia, known as the “Rocket Docket” for its swift handling of litigation. Ryan recently first-chaired a team that won a combined judgment and fee award of nearly $25 million in a coal supply and services contract dispute in the E.D. Va., following victories on summary judgment and at trial. The 4th Circuit fully affirmed on appeal.

A past participant in the National Trial Advocacy College, Ryan has substantial bench and jury trial experience, including several multiweek trials. He has coordinated and participated in numerous mock jury and focus group exercises.

In addition to his litigation and pre-litigation counseling, he represents individuals in government investigations and conducts legal and regulatory compliance audits on behalf of Fortune 100 and 500 companies related to financial services, antitrust and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) — throughout the United States and abroad.

Fluent in Spanish, Ryan uses his language skills to assist clients whose legal needs cross international borders. He maintains a robust pro bono practice and received McGuireWoods’ annual Pro Bono Award in 2016.

During law school, Ryan was the senior notes and comments editor and a member of the executive board of the University of Richmond Law Review. He earned CALI Excellence for the Future Awards in Contracts (Section Honor) and International Business Transactions; placed first in the Walter Scott McNeill Legal Writing Competition two years in a row; and served as chief justice of the Honor Council. He also received the T.C. Williams Law School Scholarship Award, presented to the graduating student who made the most significant contribution to legal scholarship. He won the J.G. White Prize for Excellence in Spanish for his undergraduate work at Cornell University, supplementing his studies with full Spanish-language immersion at la Universidad de Sevilla, in Seville, Spain.

Ryan publishes and presents CLE seminars on a variety of commercial litigation subjects.

In the News

Ryan D Frei
T: +1 804 775 1134F: +1 804 698 2168Gateway Plaza
800 East Canal Street
Richmond, VA 23219-3916

Served as part of trial team in four-week jury trial in California state court, representing national wireless provider in class action jury trial on the issue of economic damages arising out of customers’ early termination of wireless contracts. Managed electronic document production, prepared expert and corporate witnesses for testimony, drafted mid-trial briefing, and helped to develop and execute evidentiary and legal strategy throughout trial.

Obtained second-chair experience in five-week jury trial, defending one of the nation’s largest pork producers in a nuisance action in Missouri state court involving one of its hog farms in northern Missouri. Effectively argued evidentiary motions and other matters before and during trial, and also conducted direct and cross-examinations of witnesses.

Obtained first-chair jury trial experience, representing a general contractor who brought an action for contract damages against a sub-contractor in Virginia state court, resulting in a favorable verdict for damages.

Obtained first-chair bench trial experience, representing a real estate investor in an unlawful detainer action involving allegations of fraud and forgery in Virginia state court. Retained, prepared, and direct-examined a former FBI agent who presented expert forensics testimony to effectively refute allegations of forgery.

Obtained first-chair bench trial experience, effectively representing a car dealership in an action filed in Virginia state court against a customer who forged a letter misrepresenting her income, leading the dealership to rescind the transaction and suffer damages.

Managed nationwide witness preparation and deposition defense for more than a dozen former executives and high-level business employees of a large mortgage originator involved in numerous mortgage-backed securities litigations brought in state and federal courts.

Researched and drafted Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss initial and amended complaints, defending one of the nation’s largest banks and financial services providers in a lawsuit brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia alleging fraudulent investment advice and breach of fiduciary duty. Plaintiffs opted to file an amended complaint rather than oppose the initial motion to dismiss, and then voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit just days before their opposition to the motion to dismiss their amended complaint was due.

Briefed and argued a demurrer to a multi-count complaint seeking compensatory and punitive damages based a variety of contract and tort theories in Virginia state court, obtaining dismissal with prejudice of all but one count in the complaint, as well as the claims for punitive damages and the imposition of a constructive trust. See Odyssey Imaging, L.L.C. v. Halifax Heart Center, P.C., 82 Va. Cir. 592 (City of Roanoke 2009).

Briefed and argued effective plea in bar on the basis of mootness in defending a cardiology practice in an action for injunctive relief and monetary damages in Virginia state court. The court sustained the plea in bar and dismissed the complaint in its entirety.

Effectively represented a soil scientist defending a breach of contract dispute in Virginia state court. Conducted all aspects of pre-trial practice and discovery and took both fact and expert depositions. In the middle of the final deposition, plaintiff's counsel indicated on a break that the plaintiff would be voluntarily dismissing his case. The case was never re-filed.

Researched and drafted plea in bar on the basis of the statute of limitations, triggering voluntary dismissal of a trespass and nuisance action in Virginia state court involving allegations of groundwater contamination. The case was never re-filed.

Argued a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim in adversary proceedings brought in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia relating to a Chapter 13 case. The case settled before a ruling was entered.

Named to "Virginia Rising Stars," Business Litigation, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2013-2017

Co-author, "United States," Getting the Deal Through: Complex Commercial Litigation, 2018
Author, "Get It Right and Get It in Writing: A Legal Primer for Home Renovations," Boomer Magazine, at 112, April-May 2012
Author, "Carrying on the Tradition: Succession Planning for Family Business Owners," Boomer Magazine, at 73-74, June-July 2008
Author, "Simple Living: Practical Legal Points of Condominium Ownership," Boomer Magazine, at 18, August- September 2007
Comment, Reforming U.S. Immigration Policy in an Era of Latin American Immigration: The Logic Inherent in Accommodating the Inevitable, 39 U. RICH. L. Rev. 1355, 2005
Note, Does Time Eclipse Crime?: Stogner v. California and the Court's Determination of the Ex Post Facto Limitations on Retroactive Justice, 38 U. RICH. L. Rev. 1011, 2004
Comment, Extracting Oil from Turmoil: The Iraqi Oil Industry and its Role as a Promising Future Player in the Global Energy Market, 4 Rich. J. Global L. & Bus 147, 2004
Co-presenter, "Preparing an Overall Discovery Plan," May 16, 2017
Co-presenter, "Contract Drafting and Negotiations," October 12, 2016
Co-presenter, "Issues and Practical Considerations in Commercial Contracting Disputes and Litigation," May 26, 2015