CAIL is an international nonprofit organization that addresses the needs of the global justice system. The Award for Achievement is given to those whose work embodies CAIL’s commitment to the rule of law and whose efforts help level the playing field by providing all segments of society with equal access to the justice system.
“I’m honored, surprised and humbled,” McNeil said. “It’s an extraordinary award because it truly speaks to the rule of law in our society and those who celebrate and promote it.”
McNeil will accept the award during a virtual CAIL event that will include a discussion with New York Times bestselling author and attorney John Grisham about wrongful convictions and actual innocence. Attendees will receive an autographed copy of Grisham’s just-released book, Sooley, and a copy of an earlier book, The Guardians.
Also during the awards portion of the event, the Honorable Charles N. Brower will receive the CAIL Lifetime Achievement Recognition. Judge Brower served as a judge of the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal since 1983.
For more information about the event, visit CAIL’s website.
McNeil spent the first decade of his career as a federal antitrust prosecutor and built a regional office for the U.S. Department of Justice. He then went into private practice before accepting a job at Haynes and Boone in 1984.
“I always wanted to be a lawyer. My Mom and Dad made clear at an early age that service to others was all that mattered,” McNeil said.
Over the past 35 years at Haynes and Boone, McNeil has successfully represented clients in numerous jury trials, in both state and federal courts throughout the country.
One of McNeil’s proudest professional moments involved the case of Jesus Ramirez and Alberto Sifuentes, two indigent Mexican nationals wrongly convicted and sentenced to life for a murder they did not commit. In their seventh year of representing the two men, McNeil and his Haynes and Boone colleagues brought justice to Ramirez and Sifuentes after three weeks of trial. McNeil was there when the two men were freed from prison after serving 12 long years. In 2008, the Haynes and Boone team received the W. Frank Newton Award for outstanding pro bono efforts in recognition of their work on the case.
McNeil has continued to work tirelessly to help the disadvantaged. He joined with Yetter Coleman and Children’s Rights of New York in 2011 to file a class action against the state of Texas seeking widespread reform of the state’s foster care system. The legal team won a sweeping victory on behalf of 12,000 Texas children in 2015.
In 2017, Legal Aid of Northwest Texas honored McNeil with the Louise Raggio Women’s Legal Advocate Award for his service helping low-income women address legal issues. He was recognized during the 17th Annual Women’s Advocacy Awards event in Dallas.
McNeil is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a former Chair of the Litigation Section of the ABA. He teaches White Collar Crime and Policy at both the University of Texas School of Law and Southern Methodist University School of Law. He has served on the CAIL Board of Directors for 20 years.