Erin Ashwell, Former Virginia Chief Deputy AG, Joins McGuireWoods as Partner in Richmond

Accomplished Litigator Boosts Firm’s Leading Government Investigations Practice

March 16, 2022

Erin Ashwell, an accomplished litigator and appellate practitioner who recently served as Virginia’s chief deputy attorney general, has joined McGuireWoods’ Government Investigations & White Collar Litigation Department as a partner in Richmond.

As Virginia’s chief deputy attorney general from 2020 to 2022, Ashwell set legal strategy for more than 500 employees tasked with representing state executive agencies as well as the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. She played key roles in major consumer protection initiatives, including the bipartisan, multistate action against opioid manufacturers. She coordinated legal strategy and advice for Virginia’s COVID-19 response, including reviewing and defending Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive orders. The National Association of Attorneys General honored her with the organization’s meritorious service award.  

Ashwell also has significant litigation and appellate experience in private practice. She won reversal of a $5.75 million judgment in a Virginia Supreme Court case that established a new legal malpractice affirmative defense. She carried out a variety of Title IX and Title VII investigations, often when they overlapped with alleged criminal conduct. A Harvard Law School graduate, Ashwell began her career as a trial lawyer in the U.S. Department of Justice’s tax division.

“Erin has a wealth of experience managing complex litigation and investigations as a government lawyer and in private practice,” said Todd Steggerda, chair of the firm’s Government Investigations & White Collar Litigation Department. “Her unique insight will have enormous benefits for our clients, particularly in consumer protection matters and in state attorney general enforcement actions.”

Ashwell’s arrival follows the recent partner additions of Laura Colombell Marshall, a former federal prosecutor who joined the white collar practice in Richmond and D.C.; Brian Baltz, a former SEC attorney who joined the securities litigation and enforcement team in D.C.; Jonathan Ellis, a former assistant to the U.S. solicitor general who co-leads McGuireWoods’ appeals and issues team; and Ben O’Neil, a former federal prosecutor with experience in international anti-corruption matters. In addition, Kevin Frankel, former assistant attorney general for the state of New York, and Jeff Ehrlich, former deputy enforcement director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, joined the firm’s financial services litigation practice.  

“Erin made enormous contributions as Virginia’s chief deputy attorney general and will do the same for McGuireWoods and our clients,” said Dion Hayes, deputy managing partner for litigation. “She is a proven leader and an important addition to our government investigations, appellate and litigation capabilities.”

“Erin has distinguished herself in public service and as a litigator in state and federal courts, earning the respect of the legal community in Virginia and beyond,” added Michael Herring, managing partner of the firm’s Richmond office. “We are proud to have her on our team.”

With more than 75 attorneys — including former U.S. attorneys and other federal prosecutors, enforcement officials and a U.S. deputy attorney general — McGuireWoods’ Government Investigations & White Collar Litigation Department has represented Fortune 100 companies and individuals in some of the most prominent and complicated criminal, regulatory and investigative matters of the past decade.

“I have tremendous respect and admiration for McGuireWoods and am excited to join one of the nation’s top government investigations practices,” Ashwell said. “The firm has a well-deserved reputation for excellence and I look forward to collaborating with our outstanding lawyers to serve clients.”