That’s because McFeeley continues to teach and mentor in his role as shareholder and senior litigation partner at Eberle, Berlin, Kading, Turnbow and McKlveen Chartered.
But McFeeley was a university professor prior to joining Eberle Berlin. After receiving a bachelor’s degree and a doctoral degree from the University of Texas he began down his first career path.
“I decided to teach for a while,” McFeeley says. “And I got a job at the University of Idaho. I moved up there and actually taught up there for several years. I enjoyed it quite a bit.”
But, as it turned out, the professor wanted to become a student again.
“Which was surprising to a lot of people,” McFeeley says. “I had tenure there and was set for life. But I decided to go to law school. I had always had an interest in law, and at some point decided if I was ever going to go to law school I needed to make that break.”
And so, while he was in his early 30s, McFeeley took the plunge and entered law school at Duke, where he would serve as editor-in-chief of the Duke Law Journal (and also become a diehard Blue Devils basketball fan).
The prospect of attending Duke’s law school might have awed a younger McFeeley. Instead, his life experience and maturity allowed him to embrace it.
“Part of the reason I enjoyed law school so much was because I wasn’t intimidated by either the process or the professors,” McFeeley says. “After all, I had taught several courses for seven or eight years.”
After finishing law school in 1985, teaching remained a possibility for McFeeley.
“I thought I might go back into teaching, either political science or teaching law,” McFeeley says. “But then I decided I wanted to go into practice and see what practicing law was all about. I also decided I wanted to come back to Idaho to raise my family. And Boise was the place where there was an opportunity.”
That opportunity obviously had some legs: McFeeley enjoyed his 30th anniversary at Eberle Berlin in early October.
Along the way, he served on the sidelines as a volunteer coach while his two sons played baseball and his daughter played softball.
McFeeley’s 30-year anniversary provided an opportunity to reflect on his time as a lawyer – and a professor.
“I miss teaching in some ways,” he says. “Some of the students I taught at Idaho became partners with me, and several are judges. I think that’s kind of neat.
“I miss that interaction. I miss the time and flexibility to research and write on different topics.”
That said, McFeeley is still very much a teacher, says Stanley Tharp, a fellow attorney and colleague who has worked with McFeeley for over 26 years.
“Neil is extremely intelligent and many of the lawyers at Eberle Berlin will run complex issues by him to receive his input,” Tharp says in a letter recommending McFeeley for this award. “His skills and knowledge of the law are invaluable.”
And, while he might not have the title of professor anymore, he’s still a teacher.
“In a lot of ways … at this point in my career, there’s a similarity in what I do,” McFeeley says. “I mentor some of the younger lawyers in the firm. … There’s still that mentoring going on.”
To view photos from the 2016 Leaders in Law networking reception and awards event Nov. 17, 2016, visit http://www.idahobusinessreview.smugmug.com/.