McGuireWoods Richmond partner Summer Speight was sworn in as U.S. magistrate judge for the Eastern District of Virginia on March 30, 2023. Her last day at McGuireWoods was March 29.
U.S. district judges appoint magistrate judges through a merit-based process. In her new role, Speight presides over criminal and civil cases. On the criminal side, she presides over misdemeanor cases and conduct preliminary proceedings in felony cases, such as initial appearances, preliminary hearings, detention hearings, arraignments and pleas. On the civil side, Speight presides over cases with the litigants’ consent and will handle other matters on referral, including settlement conferences, discovery disputes and dispositive motions.
During her 11 years at McGuireWoods, Speight represented employers in litigation involving wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, the Family Medical Leave Act and Equal Pay Act, trade secret claims, and wage and hour class, collective and representative actions. She counseled unionized employers, defending unfair labor practice charges and arbitrations. And she defended employers in ERISA litigation, including claims arising under multi-employer plans and claims for pension benefits, severance benefits, and disability and health benefits.
Speight was selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch, Litigation – Labor and Employment in 2021 and 2022. Before joining McGuireWoods, she served as a law clerk from 2010 to 2012 for then-U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Hannah Lauck of the Eastern District of Virginia, who now is a U.S. district judge.
Speight earned her J.D. — magna cum laude, Order of the Coif — from the University of Richmond School of Law. There, she served as executive editor of the Richmond Journal of Law and the Public Interest and as senior staff of the University of Richmond Law Review.
“I’ve learned a tremendous amount from colleagues at McGuireWoods, and the people I’ve worked with have been true mentors,” Speight said. “I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and the friendships I made here.”
Century City partner Sabrina A. Beldner, chair of McGuireWoods’ Labor & Employment Department, said, “Summer is a sensational lawyer who delivered outstanding service and results to clients during her time at McGuireWoods, and she will be greatly missed by her labor and employment colleagues. We wish her great success in the next stage of her career as magistrate judge for the Eastern District of Virginia.”