Neal R. Sonnett heads his own Miami, Florida, law firm, concentrating on the defense of corporate, white collar and complex criminal cases throughout the United States. Prior to entering private practice, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney and Chief of the Criminal Division for the Southern District of Florida.
Neal has represented a roster of high profile clients, including major national corporations, banking institutions, prominent business executives, bankers, attorneys, physicians, and federal and state political figures. He has served as counsel in regulatory and grand jury investigations, trials and appeals and federal sentencing guideline and post-conviction issues in environmental crimes, health care, insurance, securities, tax, and mail fraud cases, election law violations, money laundering, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Arms Export Control Act cases, federal asset forfeiture, international extradition, and attorney ethics and disciplinary matters.
Neal has been honored three times by the National Law Journal as one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers In America” and has been profiled by that publication as one of the “Nation's Top Litigators” and one of the “Nation's Top White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers.” He has been included in every edition since 1983 of The Best Lawyers in America and has been recognized as a top lawyer by numerous international, national, and Florida publications.
While maintaining a successful and active trial practice, Neal has been a leader in the legal profession on the local, state, and national level. He served on the American Bar Association Board of Governors and the ABA Nominating Committee, and is a former Chair of both the ABA Criminal Justice Section and the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, and he has served in the ABA House of Delegates for 25 years. He currently serves on the ABA Governance Commission and the ABA Cyber Security Legal Task Force, and he has previously served as Chair of three major ABA Task Forces related to rule of law issues: the Task Force on Treatment of Enemy Combatants; the Task Force on Domestic Surveillance in the Fight Against Terrorism; and the Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements and the Separation of Powers Doctrine. He also served as the ABA's Observer for the Guantanamo Military Commission trials.
Neal is a Past President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Judicature Society, the national Criminal Justice Foundation, the Florida Bar Foundation, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Federal Bar Association South Florida chapter, the Dade County Bar Association, and the Spellman-Hoeveler American Inn of Court.
Neal has been widely recognized for his service to his profession and the criminal justice system. Among many awards, he was named by the 11th Circuit Historical Society as South Florida “Legal Legend,” he received the “John H. Pickering Award of Achievement” from the American Bar Association and the Outstanding Service Award from the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, and the “Alumnus of Distinction” award from the University of Miami School of Law. In December 2006, he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree and delivered the Commencement Address at Nova Southeastern Law School.
In 1989, Neal received The Florida Bar Foundation Medal Of Honor, the highest award that can be bestowed upon a lawyer by the legal profession in Florida, for “dedicated service in improving the administration of the criminal justice system and in protecting individual rights precious to our American Constitutional form of government.” He also received the 1993 ADL Jurisprudence Award for his “distinguished service and inspiring leadership in preserving liberty, counteracting bigotry and advancing the cause of human rights.”