Director, Mobility, Automation and Safety
As a former senior U.S. federal regulatory chief at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a former General Motors vehicle engineer and production manager, Will is a uniquely qualified senior technical and strategic advisor who provides clients in the transportation sector with comprehensive solutions that integrate technical and engineering expertise with legal insight to expand business opportunities. He helps clients achieve their business goals and navigate obstacles by applying his thorough understanding of the federal government’s approach to transportation safety regulation (particularly related to motor vehicles), including its programs, processes and personnel, gained during his nearly a decade at NHTSA.
Known within the industry for effectively working with corporate executives, senior officials and fellow engineers, Will provides manufacturers, suppliers, startups, emerging market entrants, technology companies and government entities with strategic leadership and advice to promote safety, innovation, product quality, competitive analysis, streamlining and cost savings. He assists clients in addressing critical motor vehicle safety and related regulatory matters, certification standards, homologation, legislative activities, compliance, importation, policy advisement, enforcement actions, defect investigations, remedial action, recall management, automated driving systems, cybersecurity, product execution strategies, innovative safety approaches, best practices, organizational development and risk management strategies.
While at NHTSA, Will served in various leadership capacities, including as Chief of the Trends and Analysis Division, Office of Defects Investigation, and as a senior advisor to the NHTSA Administrator. As Division Chief, he led the oversight, analysis and investigation process of more than 1,100 vehicle, equipment, tire, motorcycle and child car seat manufacturers globally, including the TREAD Act/Early Warning Reporting Program and the integration of new data-driven techniques for performing products risk and investigation analysis. As a senior policy advisor to the NHTSA Administrator, Will led the agency’s comprehensive reorganization of the Office of Defects Investigation. He also represented the NHTSA Administrator in numerous high-profile matters with industry, associations and foreign governments. In addition, Will collaboratively led some of the largest enforcement actions involving the two largest product recalls, with more than 10 million vehicles affected. Across the DOT, Will also led teams in matters involving the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Highway Administration, and in work with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Prior to joining NHTSA, Will was a General Motors vehicle engineer and production manager for various vehicle and equipment platforms, where his responsibilities included leading programs in quality control, research and development, production, distribution, licensing, sales and service.
Examples of Will's experience include:
Regulatory & Safety Compliance
- Providing unmatched legal and industry knowledge to a broad spectrum of U.S. and international mobility and automotive clients, including automobile original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), suppliers, ridesharing enterprises, startups and technology companies, encompassing passenger vehicles, motorcycles, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses, RVs, tires, trailers, off-road vehicles (ORVs), specialty equipment, and the full spectrum of aftermarket equipment.
- Representing clients before U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) agencies, including (among other DOT operating administrations) the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA); as well as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California Air Resources Board (CARB) and others.
- Providing comprehensive problem-solving services in high-profile mobility, vehicle safety and related regulatory matters, including, among other things, self-certification of standards (including U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs), EU standards and standards in other markets), homologation, regulatory compliance, innovative mobility and safety strategies, electric vehicles, ridesharing enterprises, emerging technologies, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), automated and autonomous driving systems, best practices and emerging trends, standards enforcement, defects investigations, government inquiries and enforcement proceedings, and recall implementation.
- Developing and maintaining, on a day-to-day basis, comprehensive automotive safety compliance programs for several global automobile OEMs and other Fortune 500 mobility and technology companies.
- Providing ongoing advice and counsel to the corporate technical/product safety committees of several U.S. and global companies responsible for the determination of defect, compliance, field action and recall issues for the companies’ respective vehicles and equipment.
- Creating first-of-their-kind regulatory and legislative strategies for several prominent U.S. and international mobility and automotive clients to advance automated/autonomous driving system development and deployment in the absence of regulatory certainty.
- Leading a multi-month comprehensive legal and engineering analysis and assessment for a Fortune 500 mobility OEM on pre-production and design issues for new vehicle products and associated lines that avoided potentially costly safety and quality issues, promoted increased teamwork within the company’s relevant engineering and business units, and promoted the company’s market objectives.
- Conducting an internal regulatory and safety compliance review for a Fortune 50 multinational corporation and technology company, resulting in key business insights and recommended process improvements for operations and sales in the U.S. and global mobility and automotive sectors.
- Working with the firm’s Environmental practice group to advise mobility and automotive clients on environmental legal issues, particularly regulatory issues under the Clean Air Act and CARB mobile source emission regulations, and attendant matters before EPA and CARB.
- Providing clients with common-sense interpretations of federal statutes and regulations, including, among other things, FMVSSs, early warning (EWR)/TREAD Act reporting, foreign recall reporting, registration, labeling, VIN requirements, vehicle importation, prototypes and other NHTSA regulatory requirements that give clear business direction for company engineering and business units.
- Conducting root cause determinations, incident inspections and NHTSA/industry precedent analysis, including associated processes to mitigate risks for product issues, and assisting clients with FMEA and DFMEA reviews to manage safety outcomes, routine safety evaluation processes and industry benchmarking (both quality and safety).
- Preparing clients’ petitions for determinations of inconsequential noncompliance, requests for temporary exemptions from federal safety standards, requests for agency interpretation of existing federal statutes and regulations, and requests for protection of confidential business information (CBI).
- Working collaboratively with the firm’s trade and technology teams to advise clients on international trade issues (including tariffs, import and export regulations), cybersecurity matters, privacy issues and the full range of related corporate governance and compliance needs.
- Providing U.S. and global clients with business development advice and counsel on growth opportunities, including identifying new product segment and content feature opportunities, and guidance for startups with go-to-market strategies for novel mobility solutions.
- Assisting clients with risk management programs and conducting internal audits to create sustainable U.S. and global quality and safety organizational departments, including in-house legal and business-oriented training and ongoing support.
- Facilitating business partnerships and joint ventures among leading automotive companies, technology and product suppliers, mobility startups and applicable regulators.
- Drafting, reviewing and negotiating contracts and contract language on safety determination reporting responsibilities and recall cost recovery and risk allocation.
- Drafting, reviewing and negotiating contracts and contract language on mobility and emerging technology research projects and analysis of product usage, human factors, human machine interface (HMI) considerations and safety system integrity.
Litigation & Enforcement
- Representing U.S. and international mobility and automotive clients in countless NHTSA enforcement proceedings, defect and compliance investigations and recalls, and a host of other NHTSA administrative proceedings.
- Working with clients and the firm’s litigators in NHTSA investigations, product liability matters and class action litigations to cost-effectively identify, preserve, collect, process and produce relevant and material electronic data and documents involving hundreds of custodians, millions of documents and documents in foreign languages, including managing review teams for large document review projects in a centralized document review center, drafting and reviewing discovery responses to NHTSA, other federal agencies and courts.
- Working closely with the firm’s litigators in product liability cases, class action matters and cases involving judicial review of federal regulatory decisions, including issues regarding, among other things, associated compliance with federal safety standards, emerging technologies, ADAS, automated/autonomous driving systems, associated standards of care and preemption.
- Creating, in the absence of crisis and in collaboration with the firm’s litigators, modern and innovative approaches for clients that integrate regulatory issues arising in civil actions to benefit product liability litigation, class action litigation, and government inquiries and enforcement cases.
Legislative & Policy
- Providing strategic leadership for U.S. and global automotive and mobility OEMs in crisis management situations for recent high-profile government enforcement matters with significant congressional and media scrutiny, including proactive measures to build relationships with key federal regulators and other stakeholders.
- Developing client successes in connection with pending federal and state legislative proposals and policy issues, including, among other things, strategic advice and insights, legislative and regulatory monitoring, analyzing comments in federal rule-making proceedings, and day-to-day legal and engineering counseling that helps navigate the administrative and legislative processes.
- Preparing legislative testimony and comments in federal rule-making proceedings.
- Drafting legislative and regulatory language, with an eye to providing leadership to advance clients’ business goals and policy objectives.
- Representing clients before relevant trade associations and industry forums.
- “Navigating the Regulatory Morass to Advance Emerging Technologies,” American Bar Association (ABA) Administrative Law Conference, Section of Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice, November 2019
- “Automated/Autonomous Driving Systems (ADS) Innovation Boot Camp for Automotive Product Liability Litigators,” ACI National Advanced Forum on Automotive Product Liability Litigation, July 2018
- Panelist, Automated Driving Systems Conference, June 2018
- Society of Automotive Engineers, member
- Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, volunteer
- Friends of the North Fork, Shenandoah River volunteer
- Summit Point Motorsports Park, instructor
November 14, 2019
Thompson Hine Welcomes Premier Mobility and Automotive Team to Transportation Practice in Washington - Timothy H. Goodman, Former NHTSA Assistant Chief Counsel for Enforcement, and William L. Godfrey, Former NHTSA Division Chief, Join Firm
November 14, 2019