College of Law > About > News > student-spotlight-jack-mcneil

Student Spotlight: Jack McNeil

"Remaining Clear-Eyed and Vigilant” with Social Justice and Voting Rights

Jack McNeil
Dedicated to social justice, Jack McNeil (’24) is one of the inaugural student research assistants for the College of Law’s Racial Justice Initiative (RJI). In that role, he coordinates RJI events and is responsible for its social media presence. He also has served as the digital director for the Illinois Senate Democrats Victory Fund since 2020 and previously externed with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.  

Prior to joining DePaul Law, McNeil attended DePaul as an undergraduate where he was active in politics. He led the College Democrats and was named chief of staff of the College Democrats of America. Working on gubernatorial and mayoral campaigns allowed him to “witness first-hand how democracy worked for some and failed for others—largely those still affected by ‘the color line’ or segregation.” After graduating, he served as legislative assistant for then State Senator Andy Manar and then became the digital director for the Illinois Senate Democrats Victory Fund.   

His desire to attend law school emerged during his time with the Illinois Senate Democrats. He remembers, “My goal was to work within and deconstruct broken systems that perpetuate existing inequities, those that leave people with less trust in our legal and political systems. The law would allow me to do that.” He chose DePaul because of its commitment to social justice, policy and government work, and he “was elated when I heard about the launch of the RJI. I emailed RJI Faculty Director Manoj Mate months before applications went out to express my interest.”  

McNeil participated in the RJI kickoff event in Fall 2022, which welcomed over 100 students and legal advocates, and he has continued to be a leading force. The Fall 2023 RJI program featured Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, whom McNeil interned with during his 1L summer. The talk highlighted that despite a hyper-polarized culture, state attorneys general can reach across the aisle on issues such as privacy protection and antitrust violations. In Spring 2024, the RJI hosted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, whom McNeil respects as a powerful leader.  

Voting rights is another area about which McNeil is passionate. While externing for the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights through the RJI, he worked on Election Day 2023 voter protection. He documented issues that occurred at polling locations, researched rules and regulations, and volunteered as a nonpartisan poll watcher inside Cook County Jail. These experiences taught him that “there is always more work to be done to make it easier, not harder, for people to vote. That Cook County Jail recently added a physical polling place is a good example of how just because one has the right to vote does not always mean that voting is accessible.”  

While McNeil doesn’t have any definitive plans for after graduation, he hopes to continue with civil rights. “Government, public policy advocacy and protecting people’s rights are all very important to me, though I am not sure how all that will translate into day-to-day work just yet.”