Mr. O’Donnell received his undergraduate degree with distinction in 1976 from the University of Virginia, where he was an Atlantic Coast Conference Honor Roll student athlete. Mr. O'Donnell received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1980. He then served as a law clerk to the Virginia Supreme Court. A promised position with the Department of Interior Solicitors Honors Program and an interest in mountain climbing led Mr. O'Donnell to Alaska in 1982.
Mr. O’Donnell has received the highest "A-V" rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the oldest and most respected attorney peer-review organization. Mr. O’Donnell is also listed in Best Lawyers in America. That organization states that it "compiles lists of outstanding attorneys by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers” and that "a listing in Best Lawyers is widely regarded within the legal profession as a signal honor." Neil O'Donnell has also been selected as an Alaska Super Lawyer. Mr. O'Donnell is also a Proctor Member of the Maritime Law Association, the highest and most distinguished level of membership in that organization.
In 2015 Mr. O'Donnell received the honor of being one of the few Alaska attorneys to be inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. "The American College of Trial Lawyers, founded in 1950, recognizes the very best trial lawyers from the United States and Canada. The College’s Fellows are chosen strictly by invitation and only after a rigorous and lengthy investigation. The candidate must be identified as a highly skilled trial lawyer in the opinion of judges and practitioners, and as a person whose ethics, moral standards and collegiality are above reproach. Fellowship is limited to one percent of the lawyers in any individual State or Province, and the candidate must have practiced for at least 15 years."
Mr. O'Donnell is a member of the Alaska and Virginia Bar Associations, and is admitted to practice before state and federal courts in Alaska and Virginia, several federal circuit courts of appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. O'Donnell is an active member of several Alaska Bar Association committees. He is a past president of the Mountaineering Club of Alaska.
- U.S. Supreme Court
- University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, Virginia
- University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
- Tiwari v. Mattis – Obtained preliminary and permanent injunctions against the Department of Defense halting unconstitutional national origin discrimination against naturalized U.S. citizens servicemembers. Tiwari v. Mattis, 2018 WL 1737783 (W.D. Wash. 2018); Tiwari v. Mattis, 363 F.Supp.3d 1154 (W.D. Wash. 2019).
- Alaska Right to Life P.A.C. v. Feldman et. al. – Successfully defended the Alaska Bar Association against claims that Bar Association rules violated constitutional free speech rights of Alaska judges.
- Kosbruk v. Peninsula Airways – Obtained a substantial confidential settlement for the family of an individual who died in the crash of a Peninsula Airways Cessna Caravan
- T.Z. v. Nye Frontier Ford – Obtained a jury verdict of $7.6 million for an individual injured in an automobile collision
- Stephen Jacobson v. Allstate – Obtained a jury verdict of $450,000 in compensatory damages. The jury also found that Allstate was subject to punitive damages and the case settled during the second punitive damage phase of the trial
- Eklutna Native Corporation v. State of Alaska – Represented an Alaska Native Corporation in a successful lawsuit against the State of Alaska for soil contamination of a commercial building site
- Farnsworth v. General Motors Corp. – Obtained a $7.7 million jury verdict in a complex product liability action for a young woman injured in an automobile accident
- Great Pacific Fish Co. v. Foss Shipyard – Successfully represented the owner of a large fishing trawler which nearly sank as a result of negligent shipyard repair work on the vessel’s refrigerated seawater system
- Area G Home and Landowners Organization v. Municipality of Anchorage – Successfully defended the Municipality of Anchorage in a lawsuit challenging the extension of the Anchorage Police Service District to the Anchorage Hillside
- J.A. v. Northland Vessel Leasing Co. – Following a successful Ninth Circuit appeal, obtained a substantial confidential settlement for a dockhand who fell overboard due to inadequate railings and was crushed between the hull of a barge and the adjacent dock
- Jacobs v. National Park Service – Obtained a ruling that the National Park Service had illegally awarded a coveted Mt. McKinley mountain guiding permit to an unqualified guiding service
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Alaska Bar Association
- Virginia Bar Association