McGuireWoods Richmond partner
Tennille Checkovich joined firm client Smithfield Foods as deputy general counsel for
litigation, effective Oct. 1, 2020.
In Checkovich, Smithfield gains an accomplished attorney familiar with the
company’s litigation portfolio. She has been part of the McGuireWoods teams
representing Smithfield since 2007, when the firm was hired to defend the
company in nuisance litigation in Missouri.
Checkovich has since handled a variety of matters for the company,
including coordinating and litigating the defense of more than 500
agricultural nuisance claims pending in 26 cases in federal court in North
Carolina. She recently led a McGuireWoods team that won dismissal of a
nuisance suit against Smithfield subsidiary Murphy-Brown LLC in the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, and she has been
instrumental in the company’s efforts to pass new legislation protecting
farmers around the country from destructive nuisance litigation.
Smithfield is expanding and restructuring its law department and Checkovich
said she is excited to be part of that process as the company’s deputy
“This is an opportunity to work for a client with whom I’ve had a strong
and positive relationship for over a decade,” she said.
Checkovich joined McGuireWoods in 2004 and was a member of the firm’s
Business & Securities Litigation Department and its appellate and class
action practices. She also chaired the firm’s Richmond pro bono committee.
Last year, the Bar Association of the City of Richmond recognized her with
John C. Kenny Pro Bono Award for representing incarcerated youth in serious-offender review hearings and
for work on the Stinnie v. Holcomb appeal challenging Virginia’s
practice of suspending driver’s licenses of individuals who cannot pay
court fees and fines.
Checkovich argued the Stinnie case at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals, and the Virginia General Assembly later passed a measure to end
the automatic license suspensions. Checkovich said the victory on behalf of
indigent plaintiffs was “transformational” and a highlight of her
“Tennille’s dedication to the firm and her clients — be they Fortune 500
companies or vulnerable citizens — makes us all immensely proud,” said
Jonathan Blank, chair of McGuireWoods’ Business & Securities Litigation Department
and a driving force behind the legal challenge to Virginia’s license
suspension policy. “We know she will thrive at Smithfield Foods and look
forward to working with her in her new role.”
“Tennille’s tenure at McGuireWoods is defined by excellence and we can’t
thank her enough for her contributions to the firm and our clients,” said
J. Tracy Walker IV. “We wish her great success as she begins a new chapter in her career.”
Checkovich said she is grateful for the support and mentorship of firm
leaders including Walker, who helped her develop her appellate practice;
Blank; Dion Hayes, deputy managing partner for litigation; partner
Samuel Tarry, former chair of the Products, Environmental & Mass Tort Litigation
Matt Mathews; and partner
Joe Reid, who tried the firm’s first Smithfield nuisance case with Checkovich in
“I have been fortunate at the firm to have numerous sponsors who have
supported me throughout my career,” she said, adding that she would advise
younger lawyers to “make sure you seek out mentors and sponsors with
different personalities and backgrounds so you have the benefit of their