Neil Thomas Proto's public service and private practice in law includes forty years of experience in
land use, environmental and federal litigation, teaching at Yale and Georgetown University and writing
and speaking on a broad range of cultural and legal matters. He is of counsel in the Washington, D.C.
firm of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis.
Since 1972, both as an appellate attorney with the United States Department of Justice (Environment and Natural Resources Division, 1972 to 1979) and in private practice, Mr. Proto has been involved in numerous legal, cultural, and political challenges, including contentious Indian litigation in South Dakota in support of the preservation of Sioux Reservations, visiting the Sierra Madres mountains with the Mexican Army and DEA officials to witness drug eradication programs in support of State Department litigation, his representation, pro bono, of Protect Historic America (authors and historians such as David McCullough and James McPherson), in its successful effort to stop Disney from locating in the Virginia Piedmont. (See below Washington Monthly (1994) and New York Times (1994)) and in 2011 and 2012, Civil Rights and environmental litigation that stopped the construction of a toll road in Northern Virginia. In 1993, Mr. Proto drafted a unique statutory scheme at the behest of the State of Hawaii that resulted in the conveyance of Kaho'olawe Island from the United States to Hawaii for the special use of Native Hawaiians. He continued to represent Hawaii as counsel in its dealings with the United States through 2003 and, more recently, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in various matters concerning Native Hawaiians.
Mr. Proto is a periodic Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute (1990 to the present), where he has taught interdisciplinary courses on environmental values and energy choices, climate change and corporations, the history and law of nuclear power, and urban policy, law, culture, and sprawl. As a Visiting Lecturer at Yale College (1988, 1989), he taught the history and law of commercial nuclear power. Earlier in his career, he served as General Counsel to the President's Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee, chaired by then Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt.
In April 2010 he served as a senior advisor to the United States Naval Academy's Foreign Affairs Conference on "National Security Beyond the Horizon: Changing Threats in a Changing World," and, in August 2010, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London.
He has written many articles (others have been written about him), including:
- NEW!RFK Campaign and Gun Control Petitions March to June, 1968
- "The Opinion Clause and Presidential Decision Making",
(44 Missouri Law Review 185 (1978))
- "Preservation of Baseball Tradition Is at Stake in Rose Debate,"
New Haven Register (1989))
- "Three Mile Island: A Breach of Faith Not Yet Repaired," Chicago Tribune (1989)
- "Drifting in Space: Values and a Policy Vacuum," Chicago Tribune (1987)
- "Lessons from the American Experience," Wilton Park, West Sussex England (1994)
- "Opponents of Disney Park Find Allies in Congress," New York Times, June 13,1994
- "How Washington Insiders Ambushed Mickey Mouse," Washington Monthly, December 1994
- "The 'Crimson Horde' captured the soul of New Haven", New Haven Register (2008)
- "The Idea of Progress and Global Warming: The Rise, Fall and Dilemma Of Nuclear Power," Lecture, University of Washington School of Law February 9, 2009
- "The Idea of Progress and Global Warming: General Motors, the Demise
and the Duty of Government," Lecture, University of Washington School of Law
February 4, 2009
- "Urban Sprawl, Property, and Urban Culture," Lecture, University of Washington School of Law April 2009
- The Rights of My People, Liliuokalani's Enduring Battle With the United States, 1893-1917, Algora Publishing: New York (2009) (www.RightsofMyPeople.com).
- "PERSPECTIVE: Roberts Took Narrow View of Court's Power to Decide" (New York Law Journal, September, 2005)
- The compilation of his work on Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco
Mr. Proto was elected to the Board of Directors of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (Hyde Park, New York), in July 2004 for a three year term. He had served on the original Advisory Board of the student- created Roosevelt Institution before its merger with the Roosevelt Institute. He continues to serve (since 1995) as chair of the American Friends of Wilton Park, a British-American educational organization with origins in World War II. He sat on the Board of Directors of the Shubert and Long Wharf Theatres in New Haven, Connecticut and served as chair of the City of New Haven's Committee for the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Execution of Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco in 2002. He also co-adapted from the original Dutch (with director Tony Giordano) the musical drama, The American Dream, The Story of Sacco and Vanzetti (performed at the Shubert in April 2002).
Mr. Proto was a recipient of the Department of Justice Special Commendation Award for Outstanding Service and the Environment and Natural Resources Division Award for Meritorious Service. Mr. Proto also received the Distinguished Alumnus Awards from Southern Connecticut State University in 1981. He was recognized repeatedly by his peers through Martindale-Hubbell with the “Highest Possible Rating (AV) in both Legal Ability and Ethical Standards” and among the “2013 Top Rated Lawyer in Energy, Environmental, and Natural Resources.” He is a member of the United States Supreme Court and District of Columbia bar.
Mr. Proto has donated the “SCRAP Papers” to The George Washington University Law School Library in 2009. Also in 2009, he donated to the Gelman Library his collection of memorabilia, photographs, related national and university newspaper articles, posters (SDS, the 1968 Presidential campaign (RFK); he served as chair of Young Citizens for Kennedy in Connecticut), University directives and residence hall policies (he served as a resident director) during the Vietnam era of 1967 to 1972 (Guide to the Neil Thomas Proto papers.pdf)