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September 07 Businessexcellence McGuireWoods 61 Corporate law firm McGuireWoods has seen many changes over 173 years. Executive director Robert Couture told Ruari McCallion how the firm is adapting for the new century 21st The town of Charlottesville, Virginia, may not have the claim to fame of nearby Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America, but it is the home of Thomas Jefferson, and the University he founded in 1825. What is a little less well known is that, in 1834, Charlottesville was the birthplace of a partnership that was destined to become one of the leading law firms in the country, McGuireWoods. The firm’s largest office is located in the Commonwealth’s capital of Richmond, which is also home to nine Fortune 500 and thirteen Fortune 1000 companies. “While McGuireWoods has broad expertise in multiple legal specialties, the area we are century law

Businessexcellence September 07 62 on the development, acquisition, sale and financing of natural gas, power generation and other energy facilities; and on the marketing and trading of energy commodities. McGuireWoods will shortly be releasing its first-ever energy survey, which was completed with the participation of the CEOs from over 90 energy companies. This survey identifies current issues and revealed some interesting thinking on the future needs of the energy industry. McGuireWoods Consulting, a subsidiary company of the firm, specializes in public affairs, and represents clients who need help dealing with federal and state legislative issues. “A few areas that we have represented clients are economic development activities, media relations, and issue advocacy. We are also often retained to assist in building public/ private partnerships, frequently on infrastructure projects, like road building,” said Couture. “Growth for McGuireWoods in the 21st century is focused on our relationships with our clients,” he continued. “We are able to offer our clients a wide range of expertise from our specialized practice groups. We have changed our service model from the traditional ‘personal practice’ approach to a team approach. We assemble expertise from multiple practice areas to build cross-functional teams.” It’s a way of adapting to commercial reality and seizing the opportunity. Large corporations are seeking to consolidate their legal representation in the same way they’ve consolidated their supply chains. They would prefer to deal with a limited number of firms, rather than dozens or even hundreds. Recognizing that general counsel needs budget predictability, McGuireWoods has been at the forefront of establishing alternate fee arrangements that both share risk and provide fee predictability for clients. “Technology also plays an important role in being able to serve our clients at a world class level. For example, we have developed a protected and secure collaboration facility called e-Rooms, where documents can be created, modified, and shared best known for is complex litigation matters,” said Robert Couture, who was appointed executive director a little under three years ago. “McGuireWoods employs around 750 lawyers and has gained a reputation for being a ‘bet the company’ litigation firm. “In a recent BTI survey of 400 Fortune 1000 companies, we were highlighted as one of the ‘goto’ litigation firms; and American Lawyer ranked us third in a list of leading legal firms for big-ticket litigation,” he said. McGuireWoods’ clients number some of the largest corporations in America, which it has represented across a wide range of issues, from intellectual property protection to product liability and environmental matters. The firm has 13 offices across the US and two in other countries—one in Belgium and the other in Kazakhstan. Belgium is home to the EU’s official infrastructure but the question has to be asked, why Kazakhstan? “Kazakhstan is one of the most progressive of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), which represents 11 former Soviet Republics, and a strong economic leader in the region,” Couture said. “Our office there was established as the result of an opportunistic play in the mid-1990s. Kazakhstan has tremendous oil reserves and Western companies naturally wanted access to those resources. We represented the Kazakh government, which was advantageous, since the oil companies found it easier to deal with a western firm. Since then, we’ve been helping both foreign and local companies with issues like intellectual property and patent protection as the country’s economy develops. We’re also helping local companies to get started and grow through our capital markets practice, assisting with access to public and private funds. It’s far from the image of a poor, backward country, and we believe there are continuing opportunities in that part of the world.” McGuireWoods also has strong practices in corporate law, with the energy sector being a good example. Its energy practice focuses on regulation, deregulation and restructuring of public utilities; “We have changed our service model from the traditional ‘personal practice’ approach to a team approach. We assemble expertise from multiple practice areas to build cross-functional teams”