When Fox Chapel native Bryan Neft decided to raise the bar in his career, he did it quite literally.
Neft, 53, accepted the position of Allegheny County Bar Association president on July 1, becoming the 110th person to hold the position since the group was founded in 1870.
The 6,000-member organization consists of attorneys, judges, district justices, legal administrators and paralegals within the county.
His goal for the one-year term focuses on enhancing opportunities for minority law students.
“Expanding our summer Minority Law Student Summer Clerkship program gives minority students an edge and gives them experience under their belt,” Neft said.
Neft’s inspiration to go to law school and join the ACBA spurred from his mother’s own determination to become a lawyer. As a high school student, Neft was inspired by his mother’s ambition while he watched her attend night classes at Duquesne University in the early 1980s.
“It was something I had always wanted to do because it was something I could do as a contribution to the community,” Rhoda Neft said. “With my sons being older, I felt that it was the perfect time to pursue it.”
Neft wanted to follow in her footsteps.
He went to Penn State University for his undergraduate degree and to Boston University School of Law for his juris doctorate in 1989.
“I returned to Pittsburgh because I believe that the environment for practicing law here is much better than other places in the country,” he said.
Neft works as an attorney at the law firm Spilman Thomas & Battle, a practice focusing on commercial litigation, health care and toxic tort.
Having joined the ACBA in the early 1990s, Neft previously held positions as treasurer and was a member of several of the group’s task forces.
“Everyone at the ACBA starts their path there a little different,” he said. “For me, I helped put a program together to help military men and women with legal issues they may have.”
Rhoda Neft is also a member of ACBA. She and her son drive to meetings together, often times bouncing ideas off each other regarding cases. Although they’ve never directly worked together, Neft said, they’ve been each other’s resource more than once.
“I was very pleased when he followed in my footsteps,” Rhoda Neft said. “But I never worked towards the goal of being president and it’s me that admires his ambition.”
Neft now lives in Mt. Lebanon with his wife, Julie Cohen, and their three children.