Jim Neale is a trial lawyer whose varied practice focuses on high-exposure cases in courts across the country. He has substantial mass tort and class action litigation experience and previously served as co-chair of the firm's Food & Beverage Industry Team.
His first-chair trial experience includes personal injury, product liability, premises liability, transportation, insurance coverage, land valuation, and ERISA cases, and he has taken dozens of cases to verdict in both state and federal courts.
Much of Jim’s current work focuses on defending clients in food-related litigation, including foodborne illness cases and labeling claims, as well as counseling food companies on regulatory compliance and litigation avoidance. Jim regularly advises manufacturers, distributors and retailers on matters related to Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Tax and Trade Bureau compliance. He served as lead counsel for a Fortune 100 food manufacturer in an international recall that led to multidistrict litigation, class actions, and personal injury cases across the country, successfully trying two high-profile cases to verdict.
Jim has also defended clients in a variety of other arenas, including high-exposure cases before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation and numerous arbitration panels. He has briefed and argued appeals to the Virginia Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and 11th Circuit.
Jim is frequently quoted by the media on the topic of food safety and has written extensively on the topic. He is the co-author of "Food Safety Law," published by American Lawyer Media and now in its ninth edition. He is a member of the faculty of the National Trial Advocacy College at the University of Virginia.
From 1990 to 1995, Jim served as an Airborne Ranger and Light Infantry Platoon Leader in the U.S. Army and was awarded a Ranger Tab, Senior Parachutist's Badge, Air Assault Badge and Expert Infantryman's Badge. Following law school, Jim served as a law clerk to the Honorable Richard L. Williams, Senior U.S. District Court Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Jim serves as the liaison for McGuireWoods' pro bono work with the University of Virginia Law School’s Just Children Program, which provides legal services to youth aged 18 and under. He helps assemble defense teams, in addition to personally defending children in court and before school boards. In other pro bono work, Jim recently teamed with members of the UVA Law School Innocence Project to represent an individual who was wrongfully convicted of a 1978 rape. The team successfully enacted legislation, signed by Virginia’s governor, to compensate the individual’s family for his wrongful incarceration.
Elected as a Virginia Law Fellow in 2014 and an ABA Law Fellow in 2015, for several years Jim has been singled out by BTI Consulting Group as a Client Service All Star in product liability. While earning his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, he won the John Kingdon Award for Outstanding Oral and Written Advocacy and the Stephen P. Traynor Award for Outstanding Appellate Advocacy. He was also named the winner and outstanding oralist in the William M. Lile Moot Court Competition.
Successfully defended 8,000-store retail chain as first chair in a Los Angeles Superior Court jury trial in which model/actor alleged the unauthorized use of his image and sought to disgorge $35 million in sales allegedly due to his image.
Won a bench verdict for a land developer, establishing the fair market value of a land donation at more than $86 million, winning his client more than $20 million in contested tax credits and preserving $50 million in tax deductions.
Won a jury verdict for a food manufacturer in trial against an excess insurer for coverage worth more than $40 million.
Served as lead counsel for a Fortune 100 food manufacturer in an international recall that resulted in multidistrict litigation, class actions, and personal injury cases across the country and successfully tried two bellwether cases to verdict.
Tried and won verdicts in state and federal courts across the country in insurance coverage, product liability, personal injury, premises liability, police misconduct and wrongful foreclosures.
Defended Fortune 50 company and executive, securing a defense jury verdict in Virginia state court and winning seven figure counterclaim.
Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Product Liability, Law360, 2018 - present
Member, Charlottesville Bar Association
Member, Thomas Jefferson Inn of Court
Elected as a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation in 2014
Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Litigation - Insurance; Product Liability Litigation - Defendants, Woodward/White, Inc., 2009-2023
Named to "Pro Bono Service Honor Roll," Virginia Access to Justice Commission, 2022
Selected for inclusion in America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Food & Beverages: Regulatory & Litigation, Nationwide, Chambers USA, 2015-2022
Named to "Virginia Super Lawyers," Personal Injury Defense: General, Civil Litigation Defense, Personal Injury Plaintiff: General, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2010-2021
Selected for inclusion in “Client Service All Stars,” Product Liability, BTI Consulting Group, 2011, 2013, 2014
Named to "Virginia Rising Stars," Personal Injury Defense: General, Civil Litigation Defense, Personal Injury Plaintiff: General, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2007-2008
AV Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
Jim Neale and Benjamin Abel Contribute Two Chapters to ABA’s Guide to Food Law
September 23, 2021
McGuireWoods Attorneys Recognized in 2022 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America
August 19, 2021
McGuireWoods Achieves Top Rankings in Chambers USA’s 2021 Leading Lawyers Guide
May 21, 2021
192 McGuireWoods Attorneys Recognized in 2021 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America
August 26, 2020