McGuireWoods Senior Partner Richard Cullen to Become Counselor to Virginia’s Next Governor

January 3, 2022

The incoming Republican governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin — who won election in his first run for office after serving as co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a public investment management firm with almost $300 billion in assets under management — has turned to McGuireWoods senior partner Richard Cullen to serve as counselor to the governor when he is sworn in on Jan. 15, 2022. 

Cullen, one of the country’s pre-eminent government investigations and white collar defense lawyers and a former chairman of McGuireWoods, will leave the firm on Jan. 14, 2022.

Cullen joined McGuireWoods in 1977 and has spent nearly his entire career at the firm, leaving only to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia from 1991 to 1994 and as Virginia’s Attorney General from 1997 to 1998.

Over his nearly 50-year career, Cullen has represented high-profile, powerful figures. He advised then-Vice President Mike Pence in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and led a McGuireWoods team that sued North Korea and won a $501 million judgment in December 2018 for the parents of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who died of injuries he suffered in a North Korean prison.

Cullen represented The Boeing Company in connection with a federal investigation into crashes of two 737 Max airplanes; Sepp Blatter, former head of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, in a wide-ranging investigation of FIFA by the U.S. Department of Justice; former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who was investigated for his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff but never federally charged; and BP America chairman Lamar McKay in litigation stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Cullen also served as special counsel to U.S. Sen. Paul Trible, R-Va., during the Senate select committee’s investigation of the Iran-Contra affair, and Cullen was on the staff of U.S. Rep. M. Caldwell Butler, R-Va., during the Watergate investigation.

As McGuireWoods’ chairman from 2006 to 2017, Cullen helped the firm grow from 750 lawyers in 15 offices to more than 1,000 lawyers in 21 offices worldwide. The firm opened offices in Texas and California, established McGuireWoods London and an Asian presence in Shanghai. He also oversaw development of an industry-focused strategy that earned the firm global recognition as a leader in innovative approaches that enhance client service.

Cullen was a driving force behind the 1998 birth of McGuireWoods Consulting, the firm’s full-service public affairs arm recognized in Washington, D.C., and in state capitals nationwide as a premier lobbying, advocacy, grassroots and strategic communications provider.

“Richard’s impact on this firm, the city of Richmond, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the country is nothing short of remarkable. We will miss our friend and colleague, but our loss will be to the great benefit of the governor’s office and the people of Virginia,” said McGuireWoods Chairman Jonathan Harmon.

“Richard is a giant,” echoed firm managing partner Tracy Walker. “He has been a pillar of our firm, our community and the Commonwealth for decades. We are incredibly proud that Richard will once again answer the call of public service.”

Noted Cullen: “When I have felt the pull of public service, McGuireWoods encouraged me to answer that call, past and present. That is one of the reasons the firm has been my home for so many years. Although I am leaving, McGuireWoods and everyone here will always be family to me.”