Wake DA Colon Willoughby leaving office for private practice
Posted March 20, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Longtime Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Thursday he is leaving his post at the end of March for a private law firm.
Willoughby, who said in January he would not seek re-election this year, will be going to work for McGuireWoods LLP, a full-service firm with more than 900 lawyers in 19 offices across the United States, including Raleigh and Wilmington.
Willoughby will join the firm's Raleigh office as a partner on May 1, and he will handle cases involving government regulatory and criminal investigations.
"McGuireWoods has the ability to provide high-quality legal services in a professional environment," Willoughby said in a news release issued by the firm. "In today’s world, government regulation presents significant challenges to modern businesses, and the need for careful guidance and experienced counsel is more important than ever. I look forward to being part of a team that provides that assistance."
Willoughby, 63, has shepherded high-profile murder cases and prosecuted corruption within state government and the court system during his tenure of nearly 30 years – one of the longest in the state.
Over the years, Willoughby, a Democrat, earned respect as someone who could put politics aside to handle prosecutions of high-profile figures within his own party.
"In my view, you won't find a more respected or popular prosecutor anywhere in the country," McGuireWoods Chairman Richard Cullen said in a statement. "This is a big boost for us and our clients having someone who knows as much as he does about the regulatory climate we face today."
Willoughby was first appointed acting district attorney in 1983 and was elected to the position in 1986, according to the website for the state's 10th Prosecutorial District.
An acting district attorney will be appointed by the governor to carry out the remainder of his term, which expires Jan. 1, 2015.
Six people are seeking election to Willoughby's seat, including three assistant district attorneys – Jeff Cruden, Jefferson G. Griffin and Boz Zellinger – and Wake County Clerk of Superior Court Lorrin Freeman. Attorneys Terry A. Swaim and John Walter Bryant are also candidates.