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Exploring Life & Business with Beverly McNeill

Today we’d like to introduce you to Beverly McNeill.

Hi Beverly, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I was born in New Jersey and moved to Florida with my family when I was in Middle School. My mother is from Trinidad & Tobago and my father is from Brooklyn, N.Y; who will be celebrating 43 years of marriage this year. I have a younger brother and an older sister who has autism and is nonverbal. Therefore, growing up, even though I was the middle child, I always had the responsibilities of the oldest child since I was always looking out and watching over my older sister. My parents have always told me that I have always said I wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was young. I remember always wanting to use my voice to help advocate for others. I always had an interest in family law as well, Therefore, after passing the Florida Bar in 2012, I worked as an associate attorney for a small law firm that focused on family law and criminal defense. It was a great experience for it was my first exposure to the legal world as a practicing attorney and there was a lot to learn. Unfortunately, one of the things I was starting to learn little by little was that family law was not an area of law I was too fond of. Then I started my own law firm, The McNeill Firm, PLLC. I continued to practice family law. While the money was great, I realized it was something that wasn’t fulfilling for me and the drama that comes with family law wasn’t for me. I know a lot of great families law attorneys and it’s definitely their calling! However, I learned that it is definitely not mine.

In 2016, one of my law school colleagues who lives out of state was telling me how they are practicing Social Security Disability Law. This is an area of law that is not commonly taught in law school so I didn’t really know much about it until they told me. I was definitely interested in helping disabled clients since I grew up taking care of my sister and that will always have a special place in my heart. Then I proceeded to look into it more and applied to be an Of Counsel/Contract Attorney for various national Social Security Disability Law firms and handling some of their cases while still practicing family law for my law firm. The more disability cases I handled and the more I learned, the more I fell in love with this area of law. Then I started taking more private Social Security disability clients and fewer family law clients. I believe I closed my last family law case in 2018. Therefore, The McNeill Firm, PLLC now solely focuses on Social Security Disability Law and I love it.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It hasn’t been a smooth road for sure. I always remember the story of Malcolm X telling his English teacher that he wanted to be a lawyer but was told that it wasn’t a realistic profession for him. Or a more recent story of Michelle Obama being told by a college counselor that she didn’t have what it took to get into Princeton University. In High School, I met with a Guidance Counselor to talk about my career goals. I told her I wanted to be a lawyer. She told me that I should try to be a paralegal instead because it will be “too hard for me to become a lawyer”. Throughout my journey of becoming an attorney, I definitely have had encouragement but also a lot of doubters. I am thankful for the doubters because I wouldn’t be who I am today. I believe that comment from that Guidance Counselor, and others, has helped and pushed me to work even harder to prove her and everyone else wrong.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am the founder and managing partner of The McNeill Firm, PLLC. I represent individuals who are not able to work (or work very much) due to a disability condition – physical or mental – by helping them receive their Social Security disability benefits. When individuals first apply for Social Security disability benefits, the number of applicants that are denied for the first time is high. Then a lot of times individuals do not appeal and give up. I help those who don’t want to give up and want to appeal that decision and have a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). I review the denial letter, help develop their medical evidence, develop a theory and prepare them for the hearing where I will argue their case in front of the ALJ. The McNeill Firm, PLLC also helps individuals who never applied for their benefits before and need help with the initial application process. What sets The McNeill Firm, PLLC, apart from the others is that we practice a niche area of law exclusively in the area of Social Security Disability. Social Security Disability is our sole focus and area of expertise.

Can you talk about how you think about risk?
When I switched from family law to Social Security disability, it was definitely a risk. Family law cases are paid up front. The clients pay a fee before the attorney starts their case. On the other hand, Social Security disability is contingency. This means I only will receive payment for working on the case if we win. Social Security disability attorneys are paid a percentage from the back pay that the client will receive once they are rewarded their disability benefits. Did this make it harder financially at first? Of course! I was even told by some people “Are you sure you want to solely practice this area of law? What if you don’t win a lot of cases?” Even though that decision wasn’t a “safe” decision and I took a risk, I have no regrets at all today. Sometimes we have to take that risk in order to achieve our goals. If I have not took that risk, I would not be happy as an attorney practicing an area of law I didn’t enjoy. I’m glad that I decided to have the courage to face the fear of uncertainty and practicing an area of law now that is fulfilling and helping individuals receive their disability benefits.

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Image Credits

SiNuchi Photography

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What to check out next:
Aleasha Bahr is a sales & marketing strategist known for showing introverts and ambiverts the Secret Art of Subtle Selling.  She personally sold millions in revenue while discovering introverts are usually top sales people – as soon as they stop trying to act like extroverts.  We’ve partnered with her to produce Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories. Check out episode 1 below:

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