Lawler graduated from West End High School and served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea and China during World War II. He studied at the Birmingham Conservatory of Music and completed his master of arts and Ph.D. at the University of Alabama.
Lawler spent twelve years as a general office worker at U.S. Steel, performing on nights and weekends. He began teaching full time in 1963 and taught music and band at Tarrant High School, Montevallo High School, Berry High School, Bessemer High School, and Jess Lanier High School. He was also an adjunct professor at UAB and was the founding director of UAB's SuperJazz Big Band and UAB Blazers basketball pep band in 1978.
Lawler was the orchestra conductor for the Miss Alabama pageant for two decades. He was also a prolific arranger, having written numerous charts for SuperJazz and many other groups, such as the Joe Giattina Orchestra, the UAB Jazz Ensemble and the Alabama Cavaliers. He also prepared the marching band arrangements for "Dixie" and "Birdland" used by Vestavia Hills High School.
- "Neil Everett Lawler" obituary (October 2016)