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Bill Howell
Jul 16, 2018

Former Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell Joins McGuireWoods Consulting as Senior Advisor

William J. “Bill” Howell, one of the Virginia House of Delegates’ longest-serving speakers, has joined McGuireWoods Consulting as a senior advisor in a non-lobbying role. He will advise clients on government relations and public affairs strategies in Virginia and state capitals across the country.

“Having Speaker Howell on the McGuireWoods Consulting team will give our clients access to a wealth of knowledge, experience and relationships that will be invaluable as they pursue their business goals here in Virginia and nationwide,” said Mark Bowles, chairman of McGuireWoods Consulting. “His record of accomplishment, reputation for integrity and high regard on both sides of the political aisle during his 30 years in the Virginia House – half of them as speaker – are extraordinary, and we are truly fortunate to welcome him.”

“This is a wonderful addition for clients who look to McGuireWoods as a one-stop shop for excellence in meeting both their public affairs and legal needs,” said Jonathan P. Harmon, chairman of McGuireWoods law firm.

Howell was speaker from 2003 to 2018, a time when Virginia posted 10 budget surpluses totaling $2.5 billion. Under his leadership, the House of Delegates emphasized significant reforms in state government and strategic investments in higher education, economic development, and mental health services. Howell’s notable legislative achievements also included a major transportation initiative passed with bipartisan support and state-funded incentives for land conservation.

“The ability to provide superior service and solutions for clients – not only at the federal level but also with nationwide reach to legislatures, governors and regulators in every state –significantly distinguishes McGuireWoods Consulting from other public affairs firms,” said Jim Hodges, CEO and president of McGuireWoods Consulting and former governor of South Carolina. “The addition of Bill Howell, whose reputation as an innovative legislator and trusted leader is broadly known in state capitals, substantially strengthens the capabilities of our national multistate strategies group.”

With the ability to deliver solutions in all 50 states, the national multistate strategies team helps clients with strategic political and policy issues at the highest levels of state government, focusing on client matters with governors, attorneys general, legislatures, insurance commissioners and other national associations of state officials. Howell’s broad knowledge of issues, expertise in legislative process and relationships with state leaders greatly expands the team’s ability to guide clients toward solutions for their business problems.

"Bill Howell is that rare sort of leader who shows all colleagues respect and earns their trust,” said Stephen G. Lakis, president of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation. “He took an active role in our National Speakers’ Conferences, served as our group’s Chairman, hosted our meetings, and in the process earned the affection and admiration of a wide, bipartisan array of legislative leaders all over the country. He is one of the finest public servants I have ever known.”

Texas Speaker Joseph Straus III and Maryland Speaker Michael Busch offered bipartisan praise for Howell.

“Having been one of the longest-serving speakers of Virginia’s House of Delegates, my friend Bill Howell always demonstrated a keen understanding of the needs of business, of how policy is made on the state level, and how government and the private sector interact for the common good,” said Straus, a Texas Republican.

Busch, a Maryland Democrat, recalled: “Bill and I both became speakers of the House of Delegates in our states in 2003.  I know the demands of the office, which gives me a deep appreciation for the work Bill did. Virginia has enjoyed a good business climate, a healthy economy and fiscally sound state government thanks in no small part to Bill’s leadership.”

Howell was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1987, representing a Stafford County-based legislative district for 30 years.  In addition to serving as speaker during his three decades of legislative service, he co-chaired the House Courts of Justice Committee in 2000 and became its chairman in 2002.

Howell expressed enthusiasm for the firm and team he joined.

“Since it was founded 20 years ago, McGuireWoods Consulting has earned a well-deserved reputation for consistently delivering successful outcomes for clients.  Many of my new colleagues there have been friends for years, and I am honored to join such an outstanding and respected group of professionals,” said Howell.

In addition to his public service, Howell is an attorney whose practice focused on trust and estate law.  He earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Richmond.  He and his wife, Cessie, have been married for 52 years.

Recognized in The National Law Journal’s Influence 50 as one of the top 15 U.S. lobbying firms, McGuireWoods Consulting is the full-service public affairs arm of McGuireWoods LLP, an Am Law 100 firm with 1,100 lawyers in 23 offices worldwide. The law firm and McGuireWoods Consulting provide clients with one-stop legal and public policy solutions that have been recognized for innovations and client service for the past two years in Financial Times’ North America Innovative Lawyers report.