- University of Texas (B.A., summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1976)
- University of Texas School of Law (J.D., with high honors, 1980)
- Fraternities: Phi Beta Kappa, Friars, University Scholar, Order of the Coif, Chancellors
Law Clerk to The Honorable William A. Norris, United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 1980-81
Neal Manne, former Managing Partner of Susman Godfrey, is one of the premier trial lawyers in America. When Lawdragon identified 41 lawyers around the country as “Lawdragon Legends,” it featured Manne on its cover and said,
Lawdragon’s founder called Manne a “brilliant and incisive advocate as well as a leader in the profession.” In 2017, when Lawdragon named Susman Godfrey as “America’s Leading Trial Firm” and “the nation’s most elite litigation firm,” it described Manne as “the emotional core of the firm.”
Texas Lawyer (ALM) named Manne the “Attorney of the Year” in Texas in 2017. For four consecutive years The Best Lawyers in America (Woodward White Inc.) named Manne the “Lawyer of the Year” in Houston in a major practice area: Antitrust 2019 and 2017, and Bet-The-Company Litigation in 2018 and 2016.
Chambers USA (Chambers and Partners), which surveys clients and other lawyers, ranks Manne as one of the nation’s best commercial litigators:
“He’s one of the best lawyers in Texas and nationwide.’ ‘He is regularly called on to represent clients from across the country in trial. He enjoys a ‘great reputation.’ Manne is “a remarkably bright and analytical lawyer” who is “widely recognized as ‘an exceptional trial lawyer’ . . . in business-critical disputes, including antitrust and commercial litigation.” “The ‘excellent’ Neal Manne is ‘incredibly smart, thoughtful and very strategic.’” “Clients consider the ‘passionate and thoughtful’ Neal Manne ‘one of the finest commercial litigators around’ due to his ‘astute, incisive and nimble mind,’ and his ‘rare gift of penetrating dense rhetoric and complex facts’ to get quickly to the heart of the matter.” A “tenacious litigator” and a “straight-shooter,” “Manne has a ‘wonderful reputation’ among clients and peers, who commend ‘his ability to understand the central weakness or strength of the case and convey his judgment with analysis that is appropriately detailed and dispassionate and which carries no more certainty than is warranted by the facts.’” (Quoted material is from Chambers rankings in 2006, 2012, 2016, 2018, 2020 and 2021).
Manne is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious organization of trial lawyers. In 2017 and 2018, the College highlighted Manne’s pro bono work, writing that “his stellar example of furthering the administration of justice and ensuring access to justice for all, regardless of ability to pay, makes all Fellows of the College proud.” In 2019, the Texas Law Review honored Manne with the Leon Green Award, its highest recognition of an alum’s outstanding contributions to the legal profession.
Manne has an extraordinarily broad and diverse litigation practice, having tried dozens of cases around the country.
Antitrust litigation has been a specialty of Manne and his firm for decades. He has handled cases in a wide range of industries for both plaintiffs and defendants. The Best Lawyers in America named Manne the Antitrust Lawyer of the Year in Houston in both 2019 and 2017.
Energy litigation takes Manne to the courthouse often. He currently handles a large docket of cases for Chevron, including dozens of coastal land loss cases in Louisiana, and global climate change cases in numerous states. Manne handles major litigation for Vitol in California, Florida, and Puerto Rico. In 2021, after more than a decade of litigation, he won dismissal of a $3.8 billion claim against Vitol by Puerto Rico’s electric power utility. The court also granted Vitol summary judgment on its $28 million counter-claim.
Manne is one of very few lawyers to win constitutional cases at trial. Manne tried a case in San Juan, Puerto Rico challenging the constitutionality of an onerous transfer tax. The federal district judge struck down the statute as unconstitutional, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit unanimously affirmed. Manne won a landmark ruling in federal court in Houston , affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, that the system of cash bail used in Harris County, Texas, violated the constitutional rights of thousands of misdemeanor arrestees. Manne tried a case in Austin challenging the constitutionality of Texas statutes prohibiting public companies from selling liquor. The federal district judge agreed that the statutes were unconstitutional.
Manne handles complex tort cases for both plaintiffs and defendants. He helped devise the first mass subrogation claim, which allowed Susman Godfrey to make large recoveries for hundreds of health care plans in national class action litigation involving products as diverse as Vioxx, silicone breast implants and diet drugs. Manne was lead counsel for defendants in the Rio Piedras Explosion Litigation in San Juan, Puerto Rico, directing the efforts of seven law firms in the defense of more than 500 consolidated lawsuits. He has been Walmart’s national trial counsel on dozens of high-exposure tort cases involving serious injuries or death.
Manne handles class actions for plaintiffs and defendants throughout the country. He was national trial counsel for Walmart in the largest wage & hour class actions in the country, trying cases from California to Pennsylvania. He tried an antitrust class action for more than 4 months in Alaska for a class of salmon fishermen. In Kentucky, for Rawlings Group, he won the first employment class action ever tried to a jury verdict. He has resolved class actions for Chevron, ACE Insurance, Ltd., and many other companies.
Complex Insurance Coverage Disputes
Manne has represented plaintiffs and defendants in complex insurance coverage disputes, across the country and even internationally. For Equitas, he handled matters involving coverage for environmental clean-up and asbestos liability. For ACE Insurance Ltd., Manne handled not only insurance matters relating to D&O coverage and product liability coverage, but also matters involving antitrust, aviation, and securities fraud claims. Manne represented Texas Brine Company in insurance coverage litigation arising from an enormous sinkhole in Louisiana. He also has handled complex insurance coverage litigation for Walmart.
Executive Compensation Disputes
When CEO’s and other top corporate executives are fired by their companies, they often call on Manne to represent them in breach of contract litigation. Most such cases settle before trial, but when they don’t Manne has never lost. He’s won trials for Brian Hughes, Paul Beck and Ray Weems against Cambrian Capital Partners; for Dan Pena against Great Western Resources; for Jonathan Carroll against Enserch; and for David Siegel against Budget Group.
Intellectual Property Disputes
Manne handles intellectual property litigation for both plaintiffs and defendants. He defended Dealix on patent infringement claims by Autobytel and won large recoveries for SuperSpeed Software in separate patent infringement cases against Oracle and IBM. Manne defended Walmart at trial on claims of misappropriation of trade secrets brought by a former vendor. The 8th Circuit affirmed the federal district court’s judgment in favor of Walmart on the majority of the trade secret claims. The award to the former vendor was smaller than its own attorney’s fees, and the vendor went bankrupt.
As a true trial specialist, Manne often is hired to take over a case from another law firm when trial is imminent:
Manne takes seriously the legal profession’s mandate that lawyers provide free legal services to the needy. His fast-paced trial practice and his work as a Managing Partner of Susman Godfrey has not stopped him from serving the community and the legal profession.
The American Bar Association (ABA) is the country’s largest organization of lawyers. In 2021, Manne received the ABA Litigation Section’s John Minor Wisdom Award for Public Service and Professionalism, given annually to a lawyer who makes “outstanding contributions to the quality of justice in their community, ensuring that the legal system is open and available to all.” Also in 2021, Manne received the national ABA’s Pro Bono Publico Award, which honored him for his “outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged.” Manne is the only person ever to receive both awards in the same year. Click here to watch the ABA’s video about Neal, which features some of the extraordinary clients Neal has represented.
In 2020 Manne was recognized by Texas Appleseed for his pursuit of justice. In 2018, the National Law Journal (ALM) profiled Manne’s pro bono work, which landed Susman Godfrey on its “Pro Bono Hot List.” In 2017, the American College of Trial Lawyers praised Manne’s “incredibly wide range of pro bono cases.” The ADL honored Manne with its 2011 “Jurisprudence Award,” given for “commitment to equality, justice, fairness, and community service.”
In recognition of Manne’s “lifetime of volunteer service to the community,” the Houston Bar Association Auxiliary selected Manne as the 2003 recipient of the Leon Jaworski Award. In 1996, he was named the “Distinguished Alumnus for Community Service” by The University of Texas School of Law. Manne’s pro bono legal work on behalf of women’s rights led the National Women’s Political Caucus to honor Manne (along with then-Vice President Al Gore) as the national “Good Guy of the Year” in 1994. The Houston Press followed suit, calling Manne “Good Guy Lawyer of the Year” in Houston, and Planned Parenthood gave him its Public Service Award.
On a pro bono basis, Manne has represented:
In these and other pro bono cases, Manne has donated more than $2 million of his time to people and organizations who would not otherwise have had high quality legal services. Click here to read about some of Manne’s noteworthy pro bono cases.