Early Career Award: Paul O’Neill
Paul O’Neill is an education attorney, author and professor who focuses on guiding education organizations through challenges and growth. After spending nearly a decade as a corporate litigator, he walked away from Dewey Ballantine and into Newgrange, a non-profit educational outreach center and school for children with learning disabilities in New Jersey. Mr. O’Neill has struggled with learning disabilities throughout his life and the fit was a good one. Seeking a stronger grounding in education policy and law, he then enrolled at Teachers College, attending classes at night while taking a job at another corporate firm to pay the bills. Graduating with an M.Ed in Educational Leadership in 2001, he began a new career as an education attorney and also began service on the adjunct faculty of Teachers College that same year. Since graduating from Teachers College, Mr.O’Neill has held lead attorney positions in government, boutique education law firms, a non-profit organization, and the private sector. He is currently President of Tugboat Education Services, which advises education reform organizations on regulatory and strategic matters, and a Principal in the boutique education law practice group of Cohen Schneider LLP. Mr. O’Neill lectures nationally on education issues and is the author of numerous books and articles on education law, especially with regard to special education and school choice. At Teachers College, he regularly teaches “Designing Charter Schools” and “Introduction to Special Education Law and Policy.” He has helped found charter schools in New York City and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Mr. O’Neill lives in New Jersey with his wife Margaret and their three children, Katie, Tom and Jack.