Former Treasury Department official Tyler McGaughey has landed at Winston & Strawn to develop a specialty practice within the firm’s litigation department that will help clients with matters related to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. or CFIUS.
McGaughey is a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and served a brief stint as an associate counsel to former President Donald Trump before joining Treasury in early 2020 as deputy assistant secretary for investment security.
McGaughey—who is married to former U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s daughter Meg—regularly worked on matters at Treasury involving CFIUS, an interagency committee empowered to review transactions involving investments into U.S. companies by foreign businesses or governments, and certain real estate transactions by foreign people.
McGaughey, who officially started as a partner at Winston & Strawn in Washington on Monday, said in an interview the time is right to build a practice focused on CFIUS. He cited the likelihood of increased mergers and acquisitions and cross-border transactions as the pandemic recedes, which often raise questions involving foreign investments.
The committee is designed to flag foreign investments involving critical forms of technology and infrastructure and sensitive personal data, which could harm national security. Half a dozen transactions have been blocked by the U.S. president following CFIUS investigations, mostly under the Trump and Obama administrations.
McGaughey, who also worked as an associate with Williams & Connolly earlier in his career, said he plans to advise clients to be “forward-leaning” with the committee as they pursue their deals, especially given that the process is largely voluntary.
He said he was excited to join Winston & Strawn because of its strong corporate practice and large international footprint, which includes offices in a half-dozen locations in Europe and China. He also noted that the firm “has an excellent reputation for integrating lateral partners"—including those, like him, who come from government service and have limited books of business.
McGaughey said the firm will give him “time and space” to work on building clients in his early months there.
“We have been strategically expanding the Washington, D.C. office and the addition of a former AUSA with first-chair trial experience in federal court, coupled with his expertise in the growing practice area of CFIUS, will be a strong asset to our firm,” said David Rogers, managing partner of Winston’s D.C. office, in a statement announcing McGaughey’s hire.
News reports have speculated that McGaughey’s father-in-law, Barr, a former Kirkland & Ellis partner, has his eye on Winston & Strawn as a post-Trump administration landing spot. Both McGaughey and a firm spokesperson declined to comment on the reports.
Winston & Strawn has made a spate of other notable hires lately. It picked up a 15-lawyer Los Angeles firm last month to help build its white-collar defense offerings on the West Coast, along with three former Sidley Austin real estate partners.
The firm also recently hired Kathleen Blaszak from Eversheds as a partner in Washington, in part to strengthen its M&A capacity in the technology sector, and added Andrew Hutchinson, a leveraged financed specialist, from Katten Muchin Rosenman in Chicago.