Farnaz F. Thompson, who served as deputy general counsel in the U.S. Department of Education and as in-house counsel at the University of Virginia, has joined McGuireWoods’ Labor & Employment Department as a partner in Washington, D.C.
Thompson will be a key contributor to the firm’s education team, which represents clients in litigation and provides legal and policy guidance to clients including colleges and universities, K-12 schools, charter schools, school boards and academic medical centers.
Thompson served in the U.S. Department of Education from 2018 to 2021, most recently as deputy general counsel for postsecondary education. She co-led the department’s work to finalize regulations prohibiting sexual harassment. She also served as lead attorney for negotiated rulemakings, including for regulations governing accreditation and state authorization, and co-authored regulations concerning borrower defense to repayment and financial responsibility standards.
“Our clients will benefit greatly from Farnaz’s in-depth understanding of compliance and potential litigation challenges facing higher education institutions,” said Harrison L. Marshall Jr., leader of McGuireWoods’ education team.
Thompson previously was associate university counsel at the University of Virginia, where she represented the institution in litigation before federal agencies and advised officials on federal education and employment laws. From 2011 to 2015, she was an assistant AG in the civil litigation section of the Virginia attorney general’s office. In that role, she was first-chair trial lawyer in more than 30 civil actions in federal and state courts, including appellate courts.
“Farnaz is a perfect fit for our practice. She has a wealth of experience advising clients on employment laws, conducting workplace investigations and representing higher education institutions in education and employment litigation,” said Sabrina Beldner, chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Department.
“We are delighted that Farnaz has joined our growing D.C. office as she begins a new chapter in her career,” added office managing partner Todd Mullins.
Thompson is the fourth partner to join McGuireWoods’ D.C. office this year, following the arrival of antitrust partner Wrede Smith and former U.S. Department of Justice attorneys John Moran and Michael Podberesky, both members of the firm’s Government Investigations & White Collar Litigation Department.
“I have worked closely with McGuireWoods’ lawyers during my career and am delighted to join a team of great attorneys who also are good people. The firm’s reputation for excellence is unparalleled,” Thompson said. “I look forward to putting my experience to work for the firm and our clients.”
McGuireWoods’ labor and employment lawyers advise local, national and multinational employers — including small businesses, government entities and Fortune 500 companies — on compliance with state, federal and international law; internal investigations; federal contracting; and executive compensation. The firm earned national Tier 1 rankings for labor and employment litigation and employment law in the 2021 edition of U.S. News-Best Lawyers’ “Best Law Firms.”