McBride was born in Paterson, New Jersey, and grew up in Glen Rock. He played football for Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey, and was a National Merit Scholarship Program Semi-Finalist.
In 1982, he earned his Bachelor's degree magna cum laude from the College of the Holy Cross, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1987, he earned his Juris Doctor with distinction from Stanford Law School, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif.
He served as a law clerk to the Honorable Robert Bork on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1987–88, a period that overlapped with Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court. He helped edit Bork's 1990 book The Tempting of America.
From 1988-89, McBride clerked for Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court. In the 1989 book Closed Chambers, author Edward Lazarus, who clerked for Justice Harry Blackmun during the 1988-89 term, named McBride as the leader of a "conservative cabal" of Supreme Court law clerks that included Miguel Estrada, Paul Cappuccio, Thomas Hungar and R. Hewitt Pate. He arranged for Wiley Rein to host a 2013 book-tour event for Justice O'Connor for her book Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court.
From 1989 to 1992, McBride served in the United States Department of Justice under Attorneys General Dick Thornburgh and William P. Barr. He worked on national security issues, including the use of military tribunals to try terrorists and the capture and trial of Manuel Noriega. He also argued the case of United States v. Alvarez-Machain, involving the kidnapping of Dr. Machain from Mexico to stand trial in the United States for the murder of Enrique Camarena (DEA agent). From 1992 to 1999, he served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the so-called "Rocket Docket".
McBride was one of the lead prosecutors on the 1996 case of the Sugar Bottom Murders, a triple-murder carried out by a Jamaican drug gang known as the Poison Clan. The trial resulted in murder convictions for all four defendants involved, though the jury refused to give the death penalty. He was also lead prosecutor in the Otto von Bressensdorf affair (1998), in which a German man claiming to be a baron and financier fleeced investors out of millions of dollars. Von Bressendsdorf and his wife were convicted of 27 counts each of mail fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering, and sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.
McBride was the chair of the communications litigation and appellate groups at the law firm Wiley Rein prior to joining Perkins Coie. During his tenure at Wiley Rein, he was involved in multiple cases impacting the freedom of speech and privacy rights of telecommunications industry clients. In RIAA v. Verizon (2003), McBride won a ruling in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejecting attempts by the Recording Industry Association of America to use Digital Millennium Copyright Act subpoenas to obtain private subscriber data from Internet service providers. He argued the case against current Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr.. It was the first case in which now-Chief Justice John Roberts participated as a D.C. Circuit judge.
In CTIA – The Wireless Association v. San Francisco (2012), McBride won a decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit invalidating a San Francisco city ordinance requiring radio-frequency emissions warnings on cell phones on the grounds that it violated commercial speech protections.
In the Supreme Court decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion (2011), McBride, representing a group of law professors as amici curiae, proposed the statutory theory under the Federal Arbitration Act that was adopted by Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurrence, providing the critical fifth vote for the Petitioner in that case.
In September 2014, McBride was engaged by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to represent his broadcast company, Red Zebra Broadcasting, which owns radio station WWXX-FM (ESPN FM 94.3). While the station's Federal Communications Commission license renewal was pending, George Washington University law professor John F. Banzhaf III filed a petition with the FCC to deny renewal on the grounds that the team's name is a "derogatory racist word," and that its repeated use on the air "is akin to broadcasting obscenity" in violation of federal law. In December 2014, the FCC released a decision dismissing challenges to Red Zebra Broadcasting’s license renewal application for the group’s Buckland, Virginia radio station. The FCC rejected petitions to deny WWXX(FM)’s license renewal based on the station’s broadcast of the word “Redskins” to identify the Washington Redskins professional football team. In granting the station’s license renewal application, the agency expressly rejected petitioners’ arguments that use of the term “Redskins” contravenes the public interest or otherwise violates the FCC’s rules, and dismissed claims that Red Zebra lacks the character qualifications required to hold an FCC license.
McBride was recognized as one of the nation’s top 50 Litigation Trailblazers & Pioneers for 2014 by The National Law Journal—honorees were selected based on their “deep passion and perseverance in pursuit of their mission.”
McBride has been quoted in The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Richmond Times-Dispatch on white-collar and public corruption cases, and has appeared on PBS NewsHour, NPR, and C-SPAN discussing national security issues, including the use of military tribunals.