Neal first appeared in SVU as a guest star, playing a female rapist in the season 3 episode "Ridicule". Neal first appeared as Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak in the show's fifth season, replacing Stephanie March, who played Alexandra Cabot.
Neal portrayed Novak through the end of season 9, when the character exited the series after being censured by the New York State Bar. In 2011, Neal reprised her role as Novak in the season 12 episode, "Reparations", when Novak returned to SVU as their temporary ADA. After that appearance, she became a recurring character in season 13. She was last seen in the episode "Valentine's Day". Neal said of her return to the series in season 13 to TV Guide, "It's back on track to what the original SVU was intended to be, which is about sex crimes and crimes against children, it's got more of a nitty-gritty feel." She says that March's and her return to the fictional universe of the series provided a familiarity for viewers following original cast member Chris Meloni's departure. "I think they should put us in the court room together!" she says about March.