McGuireWoods was named an inaugural recipient of the “ESG and Community Impact Leader” award by The National Law Journal Legal Awards, earning recognition for social responsibility and pro bono initiatives and for responding to growing client demand for guidance on environmental, social and corporate governance issues.
The NLJ also named associate R. Andrew Austria a “D.C. Rising Star” in its annual awards, which highlight lawyers and judges who have made a difference in the legal profession. Award winners will be honored at an Oct. 20, 2022, event in Washington, D.C.
McGuireWoods earned recognition for public-facing social responsibility initiatives and for leveraging the experience and insight of the law firm and McGuireWoods Consulting to provide clients with comprehensive guidance on ESG issues.
The firm’s notable community impact initiatives include an in-depth study of zoning laws and housing segregation in Virginia by a team of McGuireWoods real estate and zoning lawyers, land use planners and government relations consultants. The team released the second part of its study earlier this year, outlining specific policy reforms to eliminate discriminatory housing policies that perpetuate racial disparities.
Other key initiatives include McGuireWoods programs that promote the advancement of women and Black professionals in private equity and finance, and pro bono projects – including partnerships with clients – that expand access to legal services for low-income individuals and families.
In addition, McGuireWoods has made its mark in environmental law. Trial teams led by Los Angeles partner Gregory Hinojosa Evans succeeded in groundbreaking litigation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), correcting the perception that CERCLA’s contribution provisions were ineffective. CERCLA was a misunderstood and poorly interpreted environmental law intended to encourage responsible parties to pay immediately for cleanups, allowing the settling party to pursue other responsible parties for their equitable share. By implementing an innovative and winning trial and appellate strategy, McGuireWoods shaped environmental law across the United States and proved that CERCLA’s contribution provisions are indeed effective.
McGuireWoods’ ESG task force draws on the collective knowledge, experience and skills of lawyers and government relations professionals who focus on environmental regulation, corporate governance, securities regulation, energy, international trade, labor and employment, global investigations, tax policy and cybersecurity.
“It is gratifying when independent authorities such as The National Law Journal acknowledge the many ways our lawyers and consultants collaborate with clients to make a difference in our communities,” said McGuireWoods managing partner J. Tracy Walker IV. “We also congratulate Drew for his well-deserved recognition as a D.C. Rising Star.”
Austria is an associate in the firm’s Government Investigations & White Collar Litigation Department in Washington, D.C., where he draws on his experience as an accomplished trial lawyer and appellate advocate to counsel clients in high-profile matters involving the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, Internal Revenue Service and other federal and state investigative agencies. He also assists government contractors with compliance issues related to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Ethics Regulations and other federal gift and gratuities statutes.
A former Judge Advocate in the U.S. Navy, Austria serves as pro bono coordinator for McGuireWoods’ Veteran Lawyers Network. In the past three years, he has opened and staffed 33 pro bono matters for the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), a nonprofit that helps service members, veterans and their families secure disability benefits. He also planned and oversaw nine pro bono legal clinics for veterans in partnership with NVLSP, Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, the Virginia Department of Veteran Services and firm clients. For his efforts, Austria recently received McGuireWoods’ Pro Bono Associate Award.
“I am proud to receive this recognition and I am grateful to my McGuireWoods colleagues for all they do to support our pro bono programs for service members and their families,” Austria said.