David A. Franchina Partner

Dave is the co-leader of McGuireWoods’ Environmental Enforcement & Regulatory Counseling practice group, where he serves as environmental counsel to clients seeking regulatory and compliance advice in a wide variety of substantive areas, including solid and hazardous waste, water and air pollution, wetlands and surface water reclamation, chemical regulation, environmental remediation, and occupational safety and health. He has counseled clients in dozens of project development matters with complex environmental implications, multimillion-dollar clean-ups, environmental insurance coverage cases, and Superfund matters. He has steered clients through the web of environmental regulation in real estate and commercial transactions.

Further, Dave has provided advice to clients on an array of environmental enforcement matters, including negotiation of civil penalties, defense of criminal prosecution, and resolution of debarment from government contracting arising out of environmental incidents.

Dave also regularly partners with the firm’s corporate, finance and real estate practices to provide environmental due diligence in the course of acquisition, sale, leasing and financing transactions.


Advised a Brownfields redeveloper in acquiring and cleaning up a former paper manufacturing plant ready to be proposed for inclusion on the federal National Priorities List. Worked with the client, the U.S. EPA and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to allow for the cleanup of the property while protecting the client from federal and state legal cleanup liability. After closing, worked with the client to complete the cleanup years ahead of schedule.

Advised developers of and investors in renewable energy projects on environmental liability, and on environmental permitting necessary to allow development to proceed on a timely basis. Projects included solar and biomass.

Assisted a national discount retailer and a national outlet mall developer client in obtaining individual wetlands fill permits, on an accelerated timetable, in connection with major regional real estate development projects. In each instance, the client obtained the necessary permits within an abbreviated time period necessary to commence construction in a timely fashion, without burdensome requirements or public opposition.

Advised several publicly-traded real estate investment trusts on environmental risks associated with the acquisition and disposition of commercial real estate.

Advised one of the world’s largest lumber companies on environmental cleanups affecting several of its facilities, including closure of its wood treatment operations under complex U.S. environmental laws. 

Advised a formulator of wood treatment chemicals on the cleanup of such chemicals under U.S. EPA oversight, and on financial settlement of costs associated with such cleanup.

Advised and defended several companies respecting potential criminal liability under environmental laws. 

Advised numerous commercial developers in securing Brownfields agreements to facilitate property development. To date, advice has been provided on over 75 Brownfields agreements.

Assisted a golf course developer in securing wetlands permits for a new golf course in the North Carolina mountains. Work included securing permits from federal and state authorities, litigating the terms of the permits with opponents of the project, and securing a settlement to the litigation.

Advised a client on wetlands permitting strategy in connection with its efforts to develop over 6,000 acres of land in a mixed-use, multi-phased development.

Defended clients from efforts by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to bar them from government contracting.

Represented a developer in negotiating a prospective purchaser agreement with the U.S. EPA. The agreement allows the developer to own a portion of a Superfund site and to conduct significant construction activities on that site, without exposure to Superfund liability.

Assisted a public/private partnership in its effort to redevelop several environmentally contaminated properties to facilitate development in an economically distressed parts of Charlotte, N.C. and Atlanta, GA.

Advised several companies respecting management of PCBs in building materials, including in connection with redevelopment of an office tower.

Represented several clients regarding management and cleanup of coal ash.

Represented generator of electricity regarding financial and legal restructuring of existing generation units, including advice on managing environmental permitting and conducting environmental cleanup of on which generation units sit.

Represented a developer in defending a permit issued under the Endangered Species Act.

  • Fordham University School of Law, JD, cum laude; Member, Fordham University Law, 1987
  • Johns Hopkins University, BA, with honors, 1984

Chair, Board of Directors, 2011-2012; Member, Board of Directors, 2007-2013, Carolina Raptor Center

Chair, Board of Directors, Charlotte Regional Air Quality Board, 2008-2011

Past Volunteer Motorman, Charlotte Trolley

  • Russian
  • North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina

The rules of professional conduct in some jurisdictions require disclosure of selection methodology for certain public accolades and recognitions. Click here to view available selection methodologies. 

Selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law,  2005-present; Litigation – Environmental, 2011-present

Selected for inclusion in “Legal 500 United States,” Environment: Litigation; Environment: Regulatory, 2021, 2022, 2023

Selected for inclusion in America's Leading Lawyers for Business, North Carolina: Environment, Chambers USA, 2004-present

Named to "Legal Elite," Environmental, North Carolina Business magazine, 2003-present

Named "Lawyer of the Year," Environmental Law, Best Lawyers in America, 2016, 2018, 2020

Named to "North Carolina Super Lawyers," Environmental, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2006

  • Speaker, The 2020 Post-Election Environmental Landscape: Impacts You Should Know, Complimentary Webinar, November 17, 2020
  • Presenter, "Real Estate and Environmental Considerations in M&A Transactions," 2016 NC Business Law Institute, February 2016
  • Presenter, "New North Carolina Risk-Based Cleanup Requirements," North Carolina Chamber Environmental Conference, January 2016
  • Presenter, "Influence of Environmental Regulations on Energy Markets: Federal and North Carolina Perspectives," CLE in connection with Energy, Inc. conference, May 2011
  • Presenter, "Complex Issues in Transactions - How to Keep Environmental Issues Under Control," ABA Section on Environment, Energy and Resources Law, Fall Meeting, 1999
  • Presenter, "Identifying and Addressing Environmental Issues in a Business Law Practice," North Carolina Bar, Business Law Section, 1998
  • Guest Lecturer, "Environmental Implications of Real Estate Development," Kenan-Flagler Business School (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and the Belk College of Business - University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2006-2016
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