By: Emma Cohen, GWWIB Ambassador
Trish McNeill was born and raised on Long Island in New York where she currently lives. Her parents worked in public service, where her mother was a teacher's aide in the local public school district and her father had a long career in law enforcement. Trish graduated from Hofstra University with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Sociology and thereafter obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Brooklyn Law School. After graduating from law school, she joined the Kings County District Attorney's Office in Brooklyn, New York as an Assistant District Attorney and was assigned to Organized Crime, later known as the Rackets Division, where she investigated and prosecuted members of organized crime and other criminal enterprises. She has received many awards including the United States Attorney General’s Award for Superior Performance by a litigation team.
Can you tell me a little more background about your job and responsibilities?
I have worked in Kings County District Attorney’s Office for almost 21 years and during my tenure I was promoted to various ranks to my current position as Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division. I am currently in charge of and supervise over 150 Assistant District Attorneys, detective investigators, financial investigators, and staff in 14 different bureaus. I am responsible for overseeing the investigations, trials and prosecutions occurring in the various disciplines within the Division.
What is the most beneficial part of your work?
The most rewarding part of my work is that I can make a difference in the life of the downtrodden and provide a voice for the victims of crime. Additionally, it is very rewarding to conduct proactive investigations where you are able to build a case by employing a wide range of investigative techniques, take that case through the trial and appellate process and ultimately ensure a successful prosecution of the defendant(s) for their illegal activities. The best accolades I have received have been the simple thanks from the victims and their family members who have said that I have made a positive contribution to their lives by enabling them to move forward despite the harm they suffered and problems that originally brought them in contact with the criminal justice system.
What is the most difficult part of your work?
The most difficult part of my work is that it is often a very emotionally charged environment in which to work and the nature of the work is fast paced requiring a huge time commitment that often results in great personal sacrifices. However, I have had the opportunity to work on very challenging cases, ranging from violent crimes including arsons and murders, to fraud cases and complex conspiracies. I was cross designated as an Special Assistant United States Attorney in both the United States Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York and the Southern District of Florida, where I worked on high-profile mob investigations/prosecutions, and secured RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) convictions against members of the Lucchese crime family of New York for murders, loansharking, and gambling and against the founders and leaders of the Cuban Mafia.
What advice do you have for young women just beginning to think about a future career?
My best advice to young women contemplating their future career paths is to remember to find a career that you thoroughly enjoy because it is a gift to have a job and career where you look forward to going to work each and every day. I also think it is important to be a person who has a "make it happen" type attitude and believes that anything is possible. Do not allow anyone to dissuade or discourage you in trying to attain your goals. Remember that there are many ways to achieve your goals so always remain open minded about the path(s) you choose to reach those goals. Never be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Most importantly, although I advocate giving your work your all, keep a good work-play balance to ensure that you also have a fulfilling personal life.