McGuireWoods’ Private Wealth Practice Reaps Top U.S. Rankings in New Chambers High Net Worth Guide

July 8, 2016

McGuireWoods’ nationally recognized Private Wealth Services team received a top ranking in the first High Net Worth Guide published by Chambers and Partners, the respected global legal services directory which consistently ranks the firm among the best in the United States for wealth management.

McGuireWoods was one of only two firms to receive the highest nationwide ranking – Band 1 – for Private Wealth Law in Chambers’ first High Net Worth Guide, launched in June. In addition, five of the firm’s lawyers – Ronald Aucutt, Dennis Belcher, Charles “Skip” Fox, Michele McKinnon and John O’Grady – were ranked as notable practitioners nationally.

The team also received a regional Band 1 ranking for the District of Columbia with Aucutt, Belcher and Fox also receiving high individual rankings.

The top ranking Chambers’ High Net Worth Guide further underscores the longstanding reputation of McGuireWoods’ Private Wealth Services practice. The firm recently earned a nationwide Band 1 ranking for Wealth Management in the widely read and respected guide “Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” – the eighth time the firm has earned such recognition.

Based on interviews with clients, the High Net Worth guide serves as an objective guide on an international scale for family offices and advisers to wealthy individuals. In its summary of the firm’s PWS group, it noted that its clients include some of the nation’s richest families, who repeatedly praised the team for its client service.

“I work with many estate planning attorneys, and McGuireWoods is probably the most client-centric that I work with,” one source told Chambers. “Their work isn’t about executing documents, it’s about finding solutions for the client, and they are very proactive, which is not always easy to come by in the attorney world.”

The Guide notes the team’s depth of knowledge and renowned work on complicated, high-dollar estate planning, estate administration and fiduciary litigation matters. “I know if it’s complicated and large and I engage McGuireWoods, then the counsel on the other side will recognize the name and not try to be too aggressive because counsels have respect for that firm and their ability,” one professional commented to Chambers.

Interviewees also praised the firm’s individual ranked lawyers.

“I can’t say enough wonderful things about him,” a fellow estate planning lawyer said of Aucutt, a Tysons partner and co-chairman of the PWS team. Aucutt has been recognized for decades as one of the pre-eminent trusts and estates lawyers in the nation and particularly the competitive Washington, D.C., market. “He understands every facet of this practice in a way that is awe-inspiring.”

Belcher, a partner based in Richmond, Virginia, who handles wealth planning estate and trust administration and fiduciary litigation, was praised by one source as “a great communicator” and by a peer as “very down-to-earth, unassuming, not full of himself, a very practical and smart guy.” Belcher co-chairs the PWS team with Aucutt.

Fox, a partner in the Charlottesville, Virginia, office and chair of the firm’s Tax and Employee Benefits Department, was praised by clients for his commitment to their needs and the superior quality of his work. “I always feel like he is responding to my needs and the family’s needs,” one client said. “Some lawyers only worry about the impact of the law, but Skip always thinks of the family first.”

O’Grady, a Richmond partner whose practice focuses on estate and gift tax issues, generation-skipping transfers, estate planning, litigation and administration matters, was hailed by clients and peers for staying on the cutting edge of changes in the law and keeping clients advised. “I recommend him to many of my clients when we need work. He brings everything down to their level and doesn’t shoot a lot of legalese,” one source said.

And McKinnon, a Richmond partner who leads the firm’s Nonprofit and Tax-Exempt Organizations industry team, was lauded for her skill at helping her high net worth clients meet their philanthropic goals as well as advising charities, private foundations and schools on endowments, investments and tax compliance.